Gr 6-9-An overview of 200 years of labor struggles. The ``Great Uprising of 1877'' punctuates the introductory chapter, suggesting the scope and intensity of the major strikes in this country. In describing this brutal occurrence, Colman emphasizes three facts-that throughout our history employers have not willingly shared their profits with workers, that the federal government has backed the employers, and that workers have fought bravely and endured much to improve working conditions and achieve fair wages. The roll call of strikes builds through such events as the 1834 protests of the women millworkers in Lowell; the 1860 strike of shoemakers in Lynn, MA; the entry of unions and organized labor in the Haymarket Square protest; the Homestead strike; the Pullman strike of 1894; and up through the 1973 coal miners strike in Harlan, KY. Many more such events are described in poignant detail. Colorful quotations and anecdotes carry along the steady listing of strikes, helped by numerous full-page black-and-white photographs and reproductions drawn from newspaper accounts. Spacious white margins around text and pictures and the use of bright red to emphasize them make the volume attractive. Although more detailed history can be found in titles such as Linda Altman's The Pullman Strike of 1894 (Millbrook, 1994), Colman's book is surprisingly readable and accomplishes its purpose of providing a general overview of labor history with style and accuracy.-Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
The subtitle is almost laughable in its understatement. This comprehensive story of the "bitter" struggle between American workers and their employers is a clear-eyed reminder of how ugly and violent the struggle actually was. Taking a chronological approach, Colman educates the reader about strikes, moving from the first in 1677 when carters were prosecuted and dismissed from their jobs "for not obeying the Command and Doing their Dutyes as becomes them in their Places" to modern-day baseball strikes. This chronological approach--organized only by loosely defined chapters and by strikes within the chapters--proves tiresome and makes study and memorization of key themes difficult. Nonetheless, the story is told fully, colorfully, and with sympathy toward labor, which, for the bulk of American history, is merited. (Colman turns a blind eye to the controversy of striking millionaire baseball players.) Numerous black-and-white illustrations, a time line, and recommended reading suggestions are also provided".