Required Reading: Labor Day

Required Reading: Labor Day

Did you know that the first Labor Day was celebrated in NYC in 1882? Thousands marched from City Hall to Union Square in a protest against low wages, unfair hours, child labor, and unsafe working environments. Over 100 years later, NYU Press is still honoring their advocacy. In these books, you’ll meet the remarkable workers who have shaped our lives. Whether you look into our past or get a new view at the present, you’ll come away with a fuller appreciation for the role labor has played in our city and our world.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives
A Pictorial History of Working People in New York City
Debra E. Bernhardt and Rachel Bernstein

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives brings to life the breathtaking and often heartbreaking stories of the people who built New York City in the Twentieth Century. Through astounding, seldom-seen photographs and poignant oral histories, discover the lives of the beam walkers who assembled towering structures; of immigrant youths in factories and women in sweatshops; of longshoremen and typewriter girls; of dock workers and captains of industry.

The War Against the Commons
Dispossession and Resistance in the Making of Capitalism

Ian Angus

Published by Monthly Review Press

For five centuries, ruling class assaults known as enclosures or clearances have led to shared common land becoming privately-owned capital, and peasant farmers becoming propertyless. As Ian Angus documents in The War Against the Commons, mass opposition to this dispossession has never ceased. This unique historical account of ruling class robbery and poor peoples’ resistance offers answers to key questions about the history of capitalism. Was enclosure a “necessary evil” that enabled economic growth? How did Marx and Engels view the separation of workers from the land, and how does resistance to enclosure continue in the 21st century?

The Prosecution of Professor Chandler Davis
McCarthyism, Communism, and the Myth of Academic Freedom
Steve Batterson

Published by Monthly Review Press

Hear the true story of a mathematician, Professor Chandler Davis, who was forced to stop chalking equations and ordered to appear opposite a row of anti-Communist congressmen at the height of the McCarthy era. He courageously asserted his First Amendment rights to confront a system rapidly descending into fascism. Author Steve Batterson examines the plights of six faculty and graduate students whose careers were disrupted by the anticommunist actions of a wide range of personnel at the University of Michigan. In this fascinating and disturbing narrative, Batterson uses archival records generated by the FBI, HUAC, the University of Michigan, and repositories holding the papers of former Supreme Court justices.

Front of the House, Back of the House
Race and Inequality in the Lives of Restaurant Workers
Eli Revelle Yano Wilson

In this Choice Outstanding Academic Title, you’ll discover the two sides of the Los Angeles restaurant scene. White, college-educated servers operate in the front of the house, while Latino immigrants toil outside the view of customers. In Front of the House, Back of the House, Eli Revelle Yano Wilson shows us what keeps these workers apart, exploring race, class, and gender inequalities in the food service industry.

Coal, Cages, Crisis
The Rise of the Prison Economy in Central Appalachia

Judah Schept

If Kentucky were its own country, it would have the seventh highest incarceration rate in the world. In Coal, Cages, Crisis, Judah Schept takes a closer look at this stunning phenomenon, explaining how the economic crisis in Central Appalachia led rural communities to build prisons as a strategy for economic development. Schept provides insight into prison growth, jail expansion and rising incarceration rates in America’s hinterlands. Drawing on interviews, site visits, and archival research, he offers invaluable insight into the complex dynamics of mass incarceration that continue to shape the economy of Appalachia and the broader United States.

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