Books for changing the world

Class War Reading List

In celebration of May Day - international workers' day - and the radical history of the working class, we've put together this Class War Reading List.

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A collection of riveting stories about working people in United States history fighting back in the darkest times.

Organzing for Power is the only comprehensive analysis of labor and popular mobilizing in Boston today, contributing to a growing body of academic and popular literature that examines urban America, racial and economic inequality, labor and immigration, and the right-wing assault on working people. 

Digging Our Own Graves sets black lung disease epidemic in the context of the brutal assault, begun in the 1980s and continued since, on the United Mine Workers of America and the collective power of rank-and-file coal miners in the heart of the Appalachian coalfields.

A powerful account of the epic clash between corporate greed and militant workers in the American Heartland. 

The memoir of Gwendolyn Midlo Hall - historian of slavery, veteran political activist, and widow of Black Bolshevik author Harry Haywood - offers today's activists and readers an accessible and intimate examination of a crucial era in American radical history.

A compelling argument that re-building the international labor movement requires solidarity with migrant workers and opening borders.

This indispensable volume surveys revolutionary upheavals across the world between 1989 and 2019, drawing lessons for theorizing revolution today.

From 1889 to 1912 resolutions of the Second International helped disseminate and popularize a revolutionary aim: the overturn of capitalism and its replacement by the democratic rule of the working class, as a first step toward socialism.

A harrowing look at the lives and struggles of a new generation of Chinese workers confronting the Apple-Foxconn empire and the Chinese state.

An insightful and timely analysis of how global economic restructuring will impact workers' struggles in the US.

This volume offers a radical critique of techno-utopianism, instead seeing innovation as a field of ongoing class struggle.

An engaging look behind the curtain of one of America's most important companies. 

Capitalism would have us believe we need our bosses. This volume reveals the history of workers who dare to disagree. 

Le Blanc presents a colorful, fact-filled history that concentrates on the struggles and achievements of the often neglected laboring majority. 

A call for international solidarity to resist the assaults on labor’s power. This collection of essays by international labor activists and academics examines models of worker solidarity, different forms of labor organizations, and those models’ and organizations’ relationships to social movements and civil society. 

Illuminates key connections between the social justice movements of the last fifty years and today's most innovative labor organizing. 

This classic work sheds light on the lives and struggles of immigrant women domestic workers.

Lois Weiner explains why teachers who care passionately about teaching and social justice need to unite the energy for teaching to efforts to self-govern and transform teacher unions.

The trials and tribulations of firebrand union organizers, from the 1930s to the 1970s, are brought to life here, in their own words.

One of America's great labor historians tells the stories of America's great labor struggles. 

A classic, radical history of Black workers' contribution to the American labor movement. 

Black autoworkers fight back against exploitation and oppression on the shop floors in the '60s and '70s.

A comprehensive account of the women who organized for labor rights and equality from the early factories to the 1970’s. 

A ground-breaking history of the radical political movements that developed within the Mexican and Chicano working-class in the United States.

An account of the successful strike by mainly Mexican women workers at the largest plant in Watsonville, California.

Blow-by-blow, an eyewitness account of a hidden chapter in labor history: the Seattle General Strike of 1919.

The definitive telling of the life and times of Lucy Parsons, early American radical and labor organizer.

Though often seen as opposing ideas, Ralph Darlington engagingly traces the entwined legacies of revolutionary syndicalism and the communist movement.

Women banana workers, bananeras, are waging a powerful revolution by making gender equity central in Latin American labor organizing.

The inside story of Argentina's remarkable movement to create factories run democratically by workers themselves.

The classic biography of Eugene Debs, one of the most important thinkers and socialists in US history.

Frank Little is considered by some to be the greatest organizer produced by the U.S. labor movement, and yet precious little has been written about the famous Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) agitator. Always on Strike chronicles and critically engages with Little’s exploits in hopes of exposing a new generation of radicals to his life, legacy, and politics.

A thought-provoking analysis of how internal migration in Gilded Age America undermined collective organizing and workers’ political power.

*where available 

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In this video, labor historian Toni Gilpin, author of The Long Deep Grudge, reminds us of the radical history behind May Day: