What We're Reading

We asked Labor Notes staffers and friends which labor books are on their nightstands these days. Here's a sample.

We asked Labor Notes staffers and friends which labor books are on their nightstands these days. Here's a sample.

I'm reading Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-Era Detroit, by Tom Stanton. It's about the Black Legion, which counted numerous public officials, including the Detroit police commissioner, as members, and which was responsible for perhaps 50 murders and uncounted beatings. Blacks, Jews, Catholics, Communists, and labor organizers were among its targets. Depressing summer reading? Not entirely, because Stanton's backdrop is the city's remarkable year in sports: the Tigers won the World Series, the Lions the NFL championship, and the Red Wings the Stanley Cup, and Joe Louis was about to become the world heavyweight champion.—Jim West

When the little town of SeaTac, Washington, became the first in the U.S. to pass a $15 minimum wage, it happened because of a remarkable coalition between unions and the religious community, including many Muslims. One union's decision to stand by its Muslim members led to a tight alliance. A campaign leader, Jonathan Rosenblum, tells about it, warts and all, in Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement.—Jane Slaughter

Juan Gonzalez, a Newspaper Guild strike leader and co-host of “Democracy Now,” is the ideal chronicler of Bill de Blasio’s rise (and near fall) as a labor-backed mayor. Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and The Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities draws on the author’s prize-winning investigative reporting on municipal corruption in New York City and the development of progressive opposition to city hall policies in the service of the 1%. Some de Blasio foes have branded him a "radical outsider." But the author depicts him, instead, as a savvy political insider and Clinton supporter whose reform agenda almost got derailed by campaign finance corner-cutting by his aides and advisors.—Steve Early



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When Senator Bernie Sanders announced his campaign for president, few imagined that the democratic socialist from the small rural state of Vermont would rally millions in opposition to centrist candidate Hillary Clinton and the corporate-friendly Democratic Party establishment. Yet Sanders won 22 states and more than 11 million votes, and he did it by running a grassroots campaign that raised more money from small individual contributions than any other candidate in U.S. history. Listen to Sanders recount his "yuge" success on the audiobook of Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In (also available in print).—Chris Brooks

It may be hard to imagine, but 50 years ago teachers were on strike in more than 100 cities across the country, part of a wave of public sector organizing in the 1960s and 70s that brought millions of workers into the labor movement. As Jon Shelton documents in his new book, Teacher Strike! Public Education and the Making of a New American Political Order, these militant tactics were often the key to winning collective bargaining—along with professional recognition—for an overwhelmingly female occupation. But teacher strikes also ignited long-simmering tensions over racial inequality, the role of women in the workforce, and who pays taxes—conflicts which were never resolved and ultimately fueled the tidal wave of conservative politics that swept the country in the 1980s.—Mark Brenner

Got a recommendation of your own? Email dan[at]labornotes[dot]org.