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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $109.99

272 pp.
140 mm x 210 mm


Publication date:
November 1993

Imprint: OUP US

In Labor's Cause

Main Themes on the History of the American Worker

David Brody

These extended essays by one of the preeminent scholars in U.S. labor history discuss central questions in the field, from the colonial period to the present: What do the first demands for a fixed workday tell us about how early American workers experienced the beginnings of the industrial revolution? Why did American labor politics never manage to break the grip of the two-party system? What was the impact of ideology, career leadership, and ethnicity on the American labor movement? How did American trade unionism cope with the market-drive forces of American capitalism? Why did so great a national crisis as World War II have so modest an impact on labor-capital-state relations in America? And finally, how did the struggle for industrial unionism produce the highly formalized "adversarial" system of workplace representation that many observers today see as one of the prime obstacles to American competitiveness in the new global economy? The book's essay structure permits detailed exploration of significant issues, while its wide chronological range and emphasis on causation broaden its scope to embrace major themes and trends. Like Brody's Workers in Industrial America (Second Edition, Oxford, 1993), In Labor's Cause makes an important contribution toward a comprehensive interpretation of the history of workers in America, and will be a fundamental component of any U.S. survey course, as well as courses in American labor or economic history.

Readership : U.S. labor history; U.S. business/economic history, social history


  • "In Labor's Cause rewards careful reading and rereading....[It] is filled with the kind of tough-minded insights that are David Brody's hallmark."--nternational Labor and Working Class History
  • "David Brody's purpose in this collection of six broadly-focused essays is 'to feed but not exhaust the intellectual appetite' of the reader, especially 'students in upper-division courses and seminars' ....He achieves his stated purpose admirably....[E]xcellent teaching material for the kind of courses Brody specifies."--Labor History
  • "Brody's use of comparative analysis and his careful delineation of the unenviable choices facing workers...are an important contribution to the rekindled debate over American exceptionalism....Perhaps the most valuable message of this fine collection is that an appreciation of the historical circumstances limiting labor's options is a prerequisite for those seeking to surmount them."--Industrial and Labor Relations
  • "A solid introduction to the work of one of the discipline's foremost practitioners....An important book for anyone interested in the history and future of the American labor movement."--Choice
  • "An excellent addition to the available bibliography of survey texts in this field. The literature needs a wider array of such works. The thematic approach is appealing. David Brody's name is an immediate selling point."--Patrick Gagnon, Silver Lake College
  • "From the demands of Philadelphia carpenters in 1791 for the 10-hour day to the precipitous decline of the UMWA in the 1970s, Brody applies his characteristic wit and penetrating intelligence to the peculiarities of American labor developments. This is a most informative and imaginative set of essays--a must read for all students of American labor history."--Leon Fink, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • "Very perceptive interpretation."--E.D. Odom, University of North Texas
  • "An insightful book useful for advanced students of American labor."--J.M. Skaggs, Wichita State University
  • "Looks like a solid/brief treatment of a topic I can incorporate into my business history course. I've struggled in the past to cover the topic as succinctly."--Gary Freeze, Erskine College
  • "The author achieves his stated goal admirably. The opening two essays demonstrate the strengths of the collection well. These engaging essays should thus point scholars of working-class race and gender towards a consideration of persistent, older problematics in labor history, as well as demonstrating problems in existing projects of synthesis."--Andrew E. Neather, United Auto Workers

1. Work and Time During Early American Industrialism
2. The Course of American Labor Politics
3. Shaping a Labor Movement
Career Leadership
4. Market Unionism in America: The Case of Coal
5. The New Deal, Labor, and World War II
6. Workplace Contractualism: A Historical/Comparative Analysis

There are no Instructor/Student Resources available at this time.

David Brody is at University of California, Davis.

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