An engrossing, informative take on the mass demonstrations that broke out in Wisconsin in early 2011 in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights.
As a political writer for the Nation and associate editor of Madison’s Capital Times, Nichols (The "S" Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism, 2011, etc.) covered the protests in Wisconsin from the beginning. Growing out of that coverage, this book is well researched and full of keen insights about the state of organized labor and the power of protest. Nichols makes no secret of his perspective on the protests: “I am not an unbiased observer, and this is not an unbiased account.” He is an unabashedly pro-labor progressive and longtime Wisconsinite with “a relative, living or dead, in every crossroads town from Green Bay to Grant County, from Mineral Point to Madison, from Owen to Oshkosh.” Though his sympathies are apparent, his overall tone is more philosophical than polemical; his aim is not to reiterate the demands of the Wisconsin protesters but to explore the implications of their protest. Nichols compares the events in Wisconsin to the 2011 uprising in Egypt and the Occupy Wall Street movement. He also provides important historical context, including discussions of Thomas Paine and James Madison, which sheds new light on the political struggles of today. Despite occasional repetition and high-flown rhetoric, Nichols is a capable and energetic narrator with a reporter's knack for getting to the heart of the matter.
Richly detailed and inspiring—worth reading for anyone interested in organized labor, civil disobedience or the spirit of Wisconsin.