THE AMERICAN STRUGGLE: The Story of the Continuing Conflict Between Labor and Management by Frederick P. Cook

THE AMERICAN STRUGGLE: The Story of the Continuing Conflict Between Labor and Management

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F.P. Cook (not the same Fred Cook of The Pinkertons, et. al.) is a perceptive and readable commentator. But his method of pairing labor leaders and movements into a series of odd couples -- the Molly Maguires and Tony Boyle, Debs and Hoffa, Homestead and Delano -- is inconsistently effective, and is most questionable in the chapter entitled ""Wobblies and Weathermen."" (What do the Weathermen have to do with labor-management conflict?) For the most part, Cook contrasts honest, dedicated organizers such as Debs and Chavez with others who, like some of their big business counterparts, have allowed themselves to become corrupted by money and ambition. But though (except for misspelling the name of Pinkerton James McParlan) Cook offers detailed and searching journalistic critiques of governmental responsibility, he has little to say about the institutional reasons why the union rank and file so often loses control of its own organization. Similarly, Cook rightly distinguishes between the reformist aspirations of most labor movements and the revolutionary goals and sometimes violent tactics of the Wobblies; however his emphasis on personalities combined with his very high estimation of the success of Franklin Roosevelt's ""peaceful revolution"" sometimes gives the impression that union organizing is a mission for saints. Despite this tendency -- and the inclusion of a gratuitous anti-violence sermon in the ""Weatherman"" chapter -- this is generally well balanced reportage with enough substance and open-ended questioning to spur further reading.

Pub Date: June 7th, 1974
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Doubleday