POWER AND CULTURE: Essays on the American Working Class by Herbert G. Gutman

POWER AND CULTURE: Essays on the American Working Class

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Gutman's path-breaking contributions to the study of American social history are vividly reflected in this posthumous collection of his works. Together, these 15 published and unpublished essays, editor Berlin's insightful intellectual biography of Gutman, and a comprehensive bibliography provide a deep understanding of Gutman's ideas and their development. The three themes that dominated Gutman's work--working-class culture, Afro-American history, and the need for historians to reach a broad audience--are given center stage here. In each area, the previously unpublished essays extend and refine many of Gutman's arguments. Those who have read ""The Workers"" Search for Power"" (reprinted here), for instanee, will be eager to explore ""Labor in the Land of Lincoln"" and ""The Labor Policies of the Large Corporation in the Gilded Age: The Case of the Standard Oil Company."" Both are full of rich detail and flavor that was the fruit of Gutman's extensive research, and they mark his early attempts to give substance to his claim that the strength of working-class culture and politics dramatically influenced America's political and economic development. In ""Class Composition and the Development of the American Working Class, 1840-1890,"" co-authored with Berlin in 1981, it is clear how the older Gutman viewed the ""reformation"" of the American working class in a way that placed immigrant and black workers at the heart of that experience, rather than as interlopers who retarded class development. Likewise, in ""Schools for Freedom"" and ""The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom: A Revised Perspective,"" Gutman's controversial research into the nature of the black family is broadened to include new information and an approach that will enhance our understanding of how blacks maintained their dignity under slavery. Finally, Gutman's concern with the increasing irrelevance of history to American society is addressed in a reprinted interview and in the previously unpublished ""Historical Consciousness in Contemporary America."" In both, Gutman stresses the need to teach an American history that incorporates the findings of the ""new social history"" and utilizes all available media. A worthy legacy--challenging, committed, and erudite--from perhaps our most influential labor historian.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 1987
Publisher: Pantheon