Reviews

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Green, an academic, offers a narrative history of Chicago's Haymarket bombing in 1886, the infamous trial that followed, and the hanging of subsequently determined innocent men. Chicago was then at the heart of the labor struggle for the eight-hour day, and we learn that workers' struggles had often been met with shocking repression, and that when violence bred violence, when powerless laboring people struck back in anger, they often paid with their lives. The Haymarket episode became a seminal moment for the American labor movement, and Green takes us inside the personal, social, and cultural elements of this tragic event. Evaluation of Haymarket includes the contention that a conservative bias against radicals, labor organizers, immigrants, and minorities was fundamental to the conflict as well as the view that execution of the anarchists saved the country from anarchy and was a moral and political victory for law and order. The author notes that after Haymarket, social peace among the various classes in Chicago was impossible, and grudges continued for decades. --Mary Whaley Copyright 2006 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
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As Green thoroughly documents, the bloody Haymarket riot of May 4, 1886, changed the history of American labor and created a panic among Americans about (often foreign-born) "radicals and reformers" and union activists. The Haymarket demonstration, to protest police brutality during labor unrest in Chicago, remained peaceful until police moved in, whereupon a bomb was thrown by an individual never positively identified, killing seven policemen and wounding 60 others. Shortly after, labor leaders August Spies and Albert Parsons, along with six more alleged anarchists, stood convicted of murder on sparse evidence. Four of them went to the gallows in 1887; another committed suicide. The surviving three received pardons in 1893. The Knights of Labor, at that time America's largest and most energetic union, received the blame for the riot, despite a lack of conclusive evidence , and many Knights locals migrated to the less radical American Federation of Labor. Labor historian Green (Taking History to Heart) eloquently chronicles all this, producing what will surely be the definitive word on the Haymarket affair for this generation. Green is particularly strong in documenting the episode's long aftermath, especially the decades-long efforts of the white Parsons's black wife to exonerate her husband. B&w illus. (Mar. 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Green (history, Univ. of Massachusetts; Taking History to Heart: The Power of the Past in Building Social Movements) writes of the post-Civil War labor agitation in Chicago that culminated in the May 1886 Haymarket Square riot, when an incendiary device tossed by a still-unidentified individual caused police to open fire and led to the death of several people, including eight policemen. The bombing fueled criticism of the dissenting press by the powers that be in a class-divided polity and produced a rallying cry for the labor movement, which was seeking, among other things, an eight-hour workday. Eight mostly foreign-born anarchists were convicted of the crime, because of their speeches and writings. Four of them were hanged, one's sentence was commuted, and three were famously pardoned by Gov. John Peter Altgeld because of lack of evidence. Green tells readers little that is new, instead mining printed sources and offering the accepted and only logical interpretation of the conspiracy-driven trial as a miscarriage of justice. He states that "the memory of the Haymarket anarchists [has] endured" as a tale about labor folk heroes, so he does not bring these figures to life. Recommended for labor history collections that would benefit from a recent monograph on this seminal event and for those seeking to expand their holdings in Chicago studies.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Green (labor history, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston) has written a thorough, scholarly investigation of the events and circumstances related to one of the crucial episodes of America's Industrial and Gilded Age. This discerning, comprehensive history provides the necessary context to enable readers to more fully appreciate the many issues leading up to and coming out of not just the May 1886 bombing in Chicago's Haymarket Square but also the nation's labor disputes during the late 19th century. The author identifies and explains how this pivotal event and its aftermath can be used to understand the social, political, and economic changes that were shaping and defining American culture and capitalism. This well-written, well-documented study investigates matters related to specific persons and events, immigration, free speech and the power of the press, crime and punishment, labor markets and working conditions, urban development, social movements, and public policies, as well as underlying personal and social attitudes and biases. This intriguing study demonstrates that economic and social conflicts and disputes have both short- and long-term consequences, and it ought to appeal to a variety of readers. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and researchers. T. E. Sullivan Towson University