- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (January 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0471416940
- ISBN-13: 978-0471416944
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,404,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor 1st Edition
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This highly laudatory biography tells a -fascinating story not only of the man who was a major force in America's labor movement but also of the era (1979-95) in which he served as head of the AFL-CIO. An uncompromising and tenacious leader of America's working people, Kirkland advocated freedom for the world's oppressed. With access to primary sources, Puddington describes how Kirkland was born into the segregationist anti-union South in 1922 and went on to become one of the most eloquent and effective spokesmen for workers worldwide. His philosophy was shaped by the New Deal, and he felt that government intervention, intelligently applied, would bring justice to the poor and level the playing field for ordinary people. In paying tribute to Kirkland at his memorial service in 1999, Henry Kissinger remarked, "He did his duty as he saw it, not for accolades. Freedom was his mission; social justice, his cause; opposition to totalitarianism, his vocation." Mary Whaley
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"Lane was a crusader for freedom and I can testify on the basis of personal involvement that his role in the defeat of Stalinism was second to none."
—Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter
"This book tells the story of one of the true heroes of the struggle for freedom from totalitarianism. Through the skillful use of the power he exercised as the leader of American labor, and through his own unshakeable commitment, Lane Kirkland played a crucial role in our peaceful revolution in Poland. He did much more. Throughout the world, millions of free people owe him a debt of gratitude for his service to the democratic cause. I am gratified that the full account of his indispensable contribution to freedom has finally been written."
—Lech Walesa, founder of Solidarity and former president of Poland
"I knew Lane Kirkland well. While he may not always have been able to secure the influence of the American labor movement he represented, he always supported the interests of the workers with great dedication and showed a willingness to compromise... [With] this biography, the man and his work will always be remembered. The book will also find considerable interest in Germany." —Helmut Schmidt, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (1974-1982)
"Lane Kirkland believed in freedom and would fight for his beliefs. Here is a portrait of his tough, principled, and consistent brand of leadership. We can admire him and learn from him." —George P. Schultz
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In the tradition of the titans preceding him, stretching back through George Meany, A. Phillip Randolph and Samuel Gompers, Kirkland fought unstintingly for the welfare and rights of America's working men and women. At a time when America was beginning its drift to the right, Kirkland unified many disparate unions into a more powerful AFL-CIO, brought minorities and women into active roles, and successfully fought off management and government attempts to deprive workers of their hard won rights. A fervent patriot and World War II veteran, with Ronald Reagan, whom he vigorously opposed on domestic labor issues, he led the AFL-CIO in playing a profound role in support of the Solidarity movement in Poland, which led to the lliberation of eastern Europe and the downfall of the Soviet Union and its empire. Thereafter, Kirkland's day passed him by, as other leaders, with the support of the New Left, sought and eventually succeeded in usurping his position. Now the movement is hoist on its on petard, to the misfortune of American workers.
Puddington comes to his task well equipped as former executive director of the League for Industrial Democracy and the author of seminal works on the conditions of labor under the Soviet regime and the histories of Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe. This is an important book for those interested in 20th century labor history.