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Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence In America Paperback – December 18, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Louis Adamic (1898­1951) was one of the best-known ethnic American authors of the twentieth century. His politics, firmly on the left, were always controversial. In circumstances that remain a mystery, in 1951, Adamic was found shot dead in his burning farmhouse in Milford, New Jersey. A former meatcutter and long-distance truck driver, Mike Davis teaches urban theory and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb and City of Quartz. He lives in San Diego.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: AK Press (December 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904859747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904859741
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,205,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Alberto Enriquez on December 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Originally published in 1933, and still about the fairest history of class violence in America available. The reality is that the poor and working class have always been on the receiving end of the worst violence in the struggle to survive. Denial remains rife, and still today, many Americans have problems owning up to a "System" that was rigged to the benefit of robber barons and backed by the brute force of unjust laws. To mention just one of countless examples, when miners in the Pennsylvania coal country struck against dangerous conditions, long hours and low pay, they were dragged out of their homes by the State Troopers (aka "the Cossacks") and literally forced back down into the mines as though they were serfs! Not satisfied with frog-marching an entire labor force, these same mounted troopers took to chasing & harassing miners' children attempting to get to and from public schools. It's not a pretty picture of America's past, but it remains a vividly relevant mirror to our present.

While documenting these and other instances of savage exploitation that led to decades of labor strife, Adamic portrays the shortcomings and errors of labor leaders just as unflinchingly. The struggle to organize labor proceeded by misdirected fits and starts and Adamic candycoats nothing. Contrary to one of the other reviews, neither Adamic nor his book can be construed as "unabashedly anticapitalist." Adamic was quite honest about his biases and stated them up front. His sympathies were with labor, but neither did he "habitually pronounce capitalist with a hiss."

In sum, a classic of labor history, of which no serious student of either labor or history should remain ignorant.
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As the old saying goes, "Desperate times call for desperate measures," and there are few times more desperate for a majority of laborers living hand-to-mouth, than being put out of work en masse. Adamic's well-researched, but surprisingly easy-to-read (I read it over a long weekend) book demonstrates the desperate side of the labor struggle which is rarely, if ever, taught in classrooms.

As strikes and "riots" are often portrayed in the media as unprovoked violence against the employers or scab workers, and haphazard destruction of the employers' properties, Adamic will not let the reader ignore that in many (most?) cases, it is the the monopolists and the concentrated Big Business who are directly responsible for the opening salvo (i.e., hired thugs to bust the strikes, agents provocateurs, corrupt politicians, etc.). He also notes that while many attempts at labor organizing were demonized and even prosecuted as illegal interference with commerce, etc., the duplicitous nature of the American legal system often ignored equally heinous interference with commerce when done on behalf of organized Big Business.

Adamic is unabashedly anti-capitalist, so his character descriptions tend to favor the champions of labor, and make the enemies of labor seem characteristically repugnant. That said, he keeps a fairly even keel and is not afraid to highlight labors shortcomings, infightings, especially weak leadership, a "We'll get ours and damn the rest" mentality, failures of the AFL as well as the politicking and racketeering scandals which plagued early labor organizations and it would seem, doomed them for the future.

Although he does not explicitly endorse "dynamite" as a means to achieving labor's goals, I think he is without a doubt sympathetic to its use; at least under certain desperate circumstances the majority of which cannot be blamed on the working classes.
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Format: Paperback
Capitalism and the labor movement, two great tastes that taste great together. Ever since the end of the cold war the whole labor/capital struggle has been put on the back burner. Pity, that. Is there any story line that more embodies "modern" times and its impact on indivduals?

I could bore you to death with support for my argument, but will just say that I have an active interest in the history of the ameican labor between 1870 and 1918 and leave it that. So much that is interesting about the United States happened during that time, and almost NONE of it had to do with national politics. If you think the study of history requires a focus on national policial events, you know little of history.

I picked up Louis adamic's "Dynamite: the history of class violence in america", after learning about its existence while reading about the history of the Los Angeles Times.

This book specifically examines episodes of violence by organized labor against the owning class. I think recent concern over "terrorism" gives this subject heightened interest. The labor movement were "domestic terrorists" way before the term was in vogue.

This book also points to the fondness for violence that lies in the heart of America. America, always violence. Any doubt that a proposensity for violence is "As american as apple pie?" This is a trait that extends from our gun wielding criminals, to our culture taste, to our justice system all the way on up to our deal old President. And mind you, I'm not saying "good" or "bad" about this particular cultural characterstic- it is just fact.

Dynamite! was originally published in 1933 and then republished in 1968. I found a paperback version of the '68 reprint on amazon. It runs about 420 pages.
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