Books: American Left Radicalism (Reading List)

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A List of Recommended Books on Left Radical Movements in America

The Unions:

  • Altenbaugh, Education for Struggle: American Labor Colleges of the 1920s and 1930s – An exploration of alternative schools for workers
  • Chaplin, Ralph: Wobbly: The Rough and Tumble Story of an American Radical autobiography of a leading wobbly, highly readable
  • Cameron, Ardis, Radicals of the Worst Sort. Women in working class Lawrence Massachusetts—the famous wobbly strike from a different perspective
  • Filippelli, Ronald L., Labor in the USA: A History. A general survey of American labor history
  • Filippelli, Ronald L. ed, Labor Conflict in the United States. An excellent encyclopedia of American labor history
  • Filippelli, Ronald L., American Labor and Postwar Italy, 1943-53. Tells story of collaboration between CIA and American labor against Italian communists after WWII.
  • Filippelli, Ronald L., Cold War in the Working Class.
  • Foner, Philip S., Free Speech Fights of the Wobblies very interesting accounts of the free speech fights
  • Green, James, Death in the Haymarket. Account of the battles between police and anarchists in 19th century Chicago
  • Lukas, J. Anthony, Big Trouble. Big Bill Haywood stars
  • Lynd and Lynd, We Are the Union: The Story of Ed Mann—steelworkers fight against shutdowns, 1970s-80s
  • McKenney, Industrial Valley (unemployed movement, labor movement in Akron in 1930s)
  • Salvatore, Nick, Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist
  • Selvin, David F., A Terrible Anger. The General Strike in San Francisco in 1934
  • Ziegler, Robert H., The CIO 1935-55. Good account of the early years of the CIO (its left period)

General Left Radicalism:

  • Aronowitz, Stanley, The Death and Rebirth of American Radicalism (1996); differentiates social justice left from “cultural radicalism”; academic study
  • Aronowitz, Stanley. Left Turn.
  • Baritz, Loren, The American Left. Interesting collection of essays from leading left thinkers
  • Buhle, Paul Marxism in the USA. —Immigrant socialism, American socialism, Marxism in Debs Era, Leninism in US [communism]culture critique, 1925-1940; the new left; dense academic account
  • Buhle, Paul The American Radical—highly readable essays on Rachel Carson, Emma Goldman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Malcolm X, Michael Harrington, Mother Jones, E.V. Debs;
  • Buhle, Paul, The Immigrant Left in the United States
  • Buhle, Buhle, Georgakas. Encyclopedia of the American Left
  • Diggin, John P., The American Left in the Twentieth Century (from working class to New Left) critical of the left, and especially the New Left
  • Ecopopulism: Toxic Waste and the Movement For Environmental Justice (1994)
  • Flacks, Richard. Making History: The American Left and the American Mind. Sociologist looks at history, theory of the left and exceptionalism; how activists can relate to the ordinary in the US
  • Goldman, Emma. Anarchism and other Essays classic from the classic anarchist
  • Graham, John ed. Yours for the Revolution: The Appeal to Reason, 1895-1922 (history and excerpts of the famous socialist periodical
  • Green, James R., Grass-Roots Socialism: Radical Movements in the Southwest 1895-1943
  • Hoover, J. Edgar. Masters of Deceipt. Commies under every bed in 1958
  • Isserman, Maurice. If I Had a Hammer: The Dealth of the Old Left and the Birth of the New Left.
  • Judd, Richard W., Socialist Cities: Municipal Politics and the Grassroots of American Socialism —Ohio and Flint, Michigan
  • Judt, Tony. Ill Fares The Land. Free market catastrophes – a bloodied but hopeful Social Democrat offers a critique and solutions
  • Kipnis, The American Socialist Movement, 1897-1912 (old standard)
  • Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine.
  • Kraditor, Aileen S.,The Radical Persuasion, 1890-1917-Aspects of the intellectual history and the historiography of three American radical organizations: SLP, IWW, SP; neo-conservative treatment of perceived pathology of the left
  • Labovitz, Being Red in Philadelphia: A Memoir of the McCarthy Era
  • Lasch, Christopher. The Agony of the American Left. The repeated fracturing of promising Left movements over the years.
  • Laslett and Lipset, Failure of a Dream? classic
  • Lieberman, Robbie, The strangest dream : communism, anticommunism and the U.S. peace movement 1945-1963 / Syracuse, N.Y. : Syracuse University Press, 2000
  • Lipow, Arthur, Authoritarian Socialism in America
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin and Marks, Gary, It Didn’t Happen Here: Why Socialism Failed in the US (2000); political sociologists on American political exceptionalism. American political culture is naturally predisposed against collectivism and class warfare thesis
  • Lipsitz, George. A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of OppositionUnderstanding struggle inside and outside a movement; African-American activists’ life from Gramscian interpretation
  • Loeb, Paul Hope in Hard Times: American Peace Movement and the Reagan Era
  • Lynd and Lynd, ed. Nonviolence in America: A Documentary History. (documents on nonviolence, from anarchism to Catholic Worker
  • Mairowitz, David Zane, The Radical Soap Opera (history of the left)
  • Malraux, Andre, Man’s Hope. The author’s first-hand account of his experiences fighting for the Republic in Spain
  • Marcuse, Herbert, One-Dimensional man
  • Miller, Sally ed. Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Early Twentieth-Century American Socialism -Includes article on the SP of St. Louis; primary documents on race, the party and women, etc.
  • Mills, C. Wright, The Power Elite. The classic attack on class and creeping corporate toxicity
  • Mishler, Paul C. Raising Reds: The Young Pioneers, Radical Summer Camps…
  • Naples, Grassroots Warriors: Activist Mothering, Community Work and the War on Povety (1998) community workers in war against poverty; oral histories of workers in NY city and Philadelphia; re-conceptualizes labor, mothering, and politics from political activists views
  • Nearing, Scott, The Making of A Radical: A Political Autobiography (2000)
  • Nelson, Bruce C., Beyond the Martyrs: A Social History of Chicago’s Anarchists, 1870-1900
  • Orwell, George, Homage to Catalonia. Author’s first hand account of life on the front lines with the Socialists against the Fascists in Spain
  • Peterson, Arnold. Socialist Labor Party, 1890-1930 (pamphlet book)
  • Piehl, Mel, Breaking Bread: The Catholic Worker and the Origin of Catholic radicalism in America—includes info on St. Louis
  • Reuss, Richard American Folk Music and Left-Wing Politics, 1927-1957
  • Rorty, Richard, Achieving Our Country:? Leftist Thought in Twentieth Century America
  • Seldes, George, Facts and Fascism
  • Seldes, George, George Seldes Reader
  • Seldes, George, Lords of the Press
  • Shull Michael, Radicalism in American silent films, 1909-1929 : a filmography and history
  • Shore, Elliott. Talking’ Socialism: J. A. Wayland and the Role of the Press in American Radicalism, 1890-1912
  • Shore, Elliott etal The German-American Radical Press. Includes article on the Freie Blatter of St. Louis 1851-1853, Chicago’s anarchist press
  • Sigal, Clancy. Going Away. Memoirs of a wandering lefty in the summer of ’56. Great read.
  • South End Press Collective, Howard Zinn, Bell Hooks Talking About a Revolution: Interviews with Michael Albert, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bell Hooks, Peter Kwong, Winnona LaDuke, Manning Marable. Left’s most prominent intellectuals –discuss the past twenty years of progressive social movements
  • Smith, Paul Chaat and Robert Allen Warrior, Like A Hurricane: The Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (late 1960s, dramatic episodes from those involved)
  • Teitlebaum, Kenneth Schooling for Good Rebels: Socialism, American Education and the Search for Radical Curriculum –case studies –including Rand School
  • Torres, Rodolfo D. Latino Social Movements (1999) calls attention to increasing significants of class and the system of global capitalism that underlies political relations of power; focuses on labor, class, patriarchy, capital—edited collection
  • Torres, Andres, The Puerto Rican Movement: Voices from the Diaspora (1998)
  • Tracy, James. Direct Action: Radical Pacifism from the Union Eight to the Chicago Seven Good treatment of how the anti-war movement drew on earlier struggles Weeks, Commonwealth vs. Sacco and Vanzetti; a good solid treatment of the anarchist persuasion as well as the basic case
  • Wigginton, Elliot ed, Refuse to Stand Silently By: An Oral History of Grass Roots Social Activism in America, 1921-1964 — hidden history of the Highlander School Activists;
  • Weinstein, James, The Decline of Socialism in America 1912-1925. Classic work on how the movement thrived and why it died
  • Weinstein, James, The Long Detour (Westview, 2002)
  • Weinstein, James, Ambiguous Legacy: The Left in American Politics
  • Wittner, Rebels against War: The American Peace Movement, 1933-1983
  • Young, Alfred The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism
  • Zinn, The Zinn Reader: radical historian explains why he became a radical; great stuff on Ludlow Massacre, anti-war movement

Civil Rights and Racial Equality:

  • Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time. Seething black rage in the 1960s
  • Baldwin, James, Another Country
  • Belfrage, Sally and Moses, Robert. Freedom Summer First hand account from two leaders of the movement
  • Burner, Eric R. And Gently He Shall Lead Them: Robert Paris Moses and Civil Rights in Mississippi Account of one young activists in civil rights movement, and discusses how he came to his non-hierarchical leadership styles
  • Cleaver, Eldridge, Soul on Ice
  • Cruse, Harold, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual
  • Duberman, Martin, Paul Robeson
  • Haley, Arthur, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Hersey, John, The Algiers Motel Incident
  • Jerome, Fred, Einstein on Race and Racism
  • Mills, Kay, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
  • Newton, Huey P., War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America
  • Pearson, Hugh. The Shadow of the panther, Huey Newton and the price of Black Power in America
  • Robeson, Paul. Here I Stand
  • X, Malcolm. Malcolm X Speaks
  • We Are Not Afraid – a gripping journalistic account of the freedom summer and the terror that faced Mississippi activists

The Sixties and Vietnam War Period:

  • Anderson, Terry The Movement and the Sixties; highly readable account
  • Cohen, Robert. Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s. Recent Bio of the pied piper of the Free Speech Revolt at Berkeley
  • Davidson, Carl. New Radicals in the Multiversity. Vietnam antiwar leader turns his attention to the universities
  • Davis, James Kirkpatrick, Assault on the Left: The FBI and the Sixties Antiwar Movement (Praeger, 1997)
  • DeBennedetti, Charles. An American Ordeal. The Vietnam antiwar war movement discussed.
  • Dellinger, David. More Power Than We Know. A first hand account of the Vietnam anti-war movement and the Chicago Seven trial by a leading participant in both.
  • Dellinger, David. Revolutionary Nonviolence: Essays.
  • Farber, David. Chicago ’68. Definitive tract on those fateful days in Chicago at the ’68 Democratic Convention. Mayor Daley vs. the Yippees.
  • Gitlin, Todd. The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.
  • Gitlin, Todd. The Whole World is Watching. The mainstream media’s coverage of the war and protests dissected.
  • Halstead, Fred. Out Now. A participant’s recollections of the anti-war movement from its origins in New York to its flame out and the Weather Underground.
  • Hayden, Thomas. The Port Huron Statement. The clarion call of the sixties generation.
  • Lipset, Seymour Martin and White, Sheldon. The Berkeley Student Revolt. Comprehensive treatment of the 1964 Free Speech revolt at Berkeley.
  • Mailer, Norman. Armies of the Night. Writer’s experiences at the march on the Pentagon in October 1967.
  • Mailer, Norman. Miami and the Siege of Chicago. More stories from the campaign trail in 1968.
  • Maraniss, David. They Marched Into Sunlight. Moving account of three days in October 1967 played out simultaneously on a Vietnam battlefield and a US college campus. Highly recommended.
  • Menache, Louis and Radosh, Ronald. Teach-ins USA. Insider account of the wave of teach-ins about the Vietnam war that swept campuses in 1965-66
  • Miller, James, Democracy is in the Streets: From Port Huron to the Siege of Chicago
  • Oglesby, Carl. Ravens in the Storm. First hand account of the anti-war movment by one of its leaders
  • Peck, Abe. Uncovering the Sixties. Very nice history of the underground press during the sixties and Vietnam by one of the participants.
  • Powers, Thomas. Vietnam: The War at Home. The early anti-war movement covered up through Tet 68
  • Rorabaugh, W.J., Berkeley at War: The 1960s
  • Sale, Kirkpatrick. SDS.
  • Small, Melvin, Give Peace a Chance: Exploring the Vietnam Anti-War Movement
  • Wells, Tom. The War Within. Incredibly detailed account of various anti-war factions. Interesting stuff on cointel program and the origins of Nixon’s White house tapes.
  • Zaroulis and Sullivan. Who Spoke Up?. Another detailed account of the doings in the Vietnam antiwar movement.

The Counter-Culture:

  • Borroughs, William. Naked Lunch
  • Ginsburg, Allen. Howl
  • Heller, Joseph. Catch-22
  • Kerouac, Jack. On The Road
  • Wolfe, Tom. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Ken Kesey, Neil Cassidy and a bus full of zonked kids have fun in the sun
  • Hoffman, Abbie. Steal This Book

Women’s Movement:

  • Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique
  • Camp, Helen C.,Iron in Her Soul: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the American Left. The Rebel Girl and her exciting life
  • Evans, Sara. Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left (classic account of the connection between reemergence of feminist politics in 1960s and the civil rights movement
  • Whittier, Nancy. Feminist Generations: The Persistence of the Radical Women’s Movement

Opposition and Repression:

  • Avrich, Paul, Sacco and Vanzetti. Detailed discussion of the local labor and political scenes in the time of the famous trial
  • Donner, Frank, Protectors of Privilege: Urban Police… (one of the few books that makes connections between repression of the various movements, from 1877 uprisings through 1960s movements
  • Goldstein, Robert, Political Repression in Modern America, 1870=present. published in 1980s, newly reissued
  • Jerome, Fred. The Einstein File.
  • Murray, Robert K. Red Scare, A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920.  A Classic work
  • Preston, William, Aliens and Dissenters;: Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903-1933 (classic, on Wobblies in particular)
  • Schrecker, Ellen. Many are the crimes : McCarthyism in America / Ellen Schrecker. Boston : Little, Brown, c1998.
  • Schulz and Schulz, It Did Happen Here: Recollections of Political Repression in America Excerpts of oral history from Pete Seeger to Dr. Spock. Great stuff
  • Watson, Bruce, Sacco and Vanzetti. General history of the controversial events

I.F. Stone:

  • The Court Disposes (1937)
  • Business as Usual (1941)
  • The War Years, 1939-1945. ISBN 0-316-81777-5
  • The Hidden History of the Korean War, 1950-1951. ISBN 0-316-81770-8
  • The Truman Era, 1945-1952. ISBN 0-394-71908-5
  • The Haunted Fifties, 1953-1963. ISBN 0-394-70547-5
  • In a Time of Torment, 1961-1967. ISBN 0-224-61464-9
  • Polemics and Prophecies, 1967-1970. ISBN 0-316-81747-3
  • The Killings at Kent State (1971) LCCN 73148389
  • The I.F. Stone’s Weekly Reader (1973) ISBN 0-394-48815-6
  • The Trial of Socrates (Anchor Books, 1988) ISBN 0-385-26032-6
  • Best of I. F. Stone. Public Affairs (2006). ISBN 978-1-58648-463-7

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