THE LEAN YEARS: A History of the American Worker 1920-1933 by Irving Bernstein

THE LEAN YEARS: A History of the American Worker 1920-1933

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author, who is associate director of the Institute of Industrial Relations of the University of California, has written a monumental history of the American worker during the twenties and early thirties. This period, immediately prior to the inauguration of the New Deal, seems far away indeed. Employers had the protection of the courts and organized labor was in a period of decline. The worker's life was not easy, but the country was enjoying general prosperity. The advent of the depression, however, produced conditions which called for drastic measures and agonizing reappraisals. The worker suffered as never before. Even so, the Communists made little headway with the worker. It was the middle-class intellectuals who flocked to the Red cause, while the workers, organized and unorganized, simply stuck it out until they could put a Democrat in the White House. Mr. Bernstein's book covers a wide field in considerable detail. Every important strike, labor dispute, or economic fluctuation is studied in a larger context so that one gets a pretty extensive picture of the entire American economic landscape during the years under examination. The book is also an interesting history of the relationship between labor and management during this period and sheds lights on the psychological battle that has been going on between the two parties since one man began employing another. There are no heroes or villains in Mr. Bernstein's book, although it is almost impossible for today's reader not to sympathize with labor during the twenties and early thirties. Three decades later, however, that is no longer wholly the case, and this perhaps vindicates better than anything else how far we have traveled since then.

ISBN: 1608460630
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin