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The first item on the Better World Books 2016 Reading Challenge is to read […]
Robert E. Weir
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For many decades historians have treated the Knights of Labor as an appendage to history, an organization that showed brief promise, then collapsed, leaving the better adapted American Federation of Labor to carry labor's torch. Labor historians in particular considered the Knights as an organization dominated by an autocratic leader, Terence V. Powderly, the Knights president from 1879 to 1893. Knights Unhorsed examines the internal conflict and external pressures that drove one of America's most promising labor organizations into obscurity less than a half a century later.
Through his analysis of conflicting personalities and the organizational structure of the Knights, Robert Weir reveals its complexity and casts severe doubt on the autocracy thesis. Each chapter offers a biographical focus on individuals expelled from the Knights of Labor and the various plots, pressure groups, overlapping hierarchies, and the innumerable disputes that plagued the order. Weir draws upon numerous sociological case studies, newspapers,pamphlets, organizational records, and scrapbooks to reconstruct the history of the Knights of Labor. This book will interest scholars and students of labor history, nineteenth-century studies, and American studies.
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