The Spirit of Labor
About the BookThis non-fiction narrative is an entertaining look at labor struggles, anarchist politics, and proletarian culture in Chicago, the heart of the radical labor movement in the turn-of-the-century United States. Through the story of its central character, anarchist carpenter Anton Johannsen, The Spirit of Labor pulls the reader into a vibrant, gritty world inhabited by unionists and scabs, anarchists and socialists, hoboes and tramps, radical reformers, shady politicians and corrupt policemen, workers equipped with "ready fists and honest souls" and by business leaders bent on crushing the city's militant labor movement.
The book also reflects the uncomfortable fit between the worlds of the bohemian intellectual and the radical worker. Immediacy and humor make it a particularly appealing candidate for classroom use, and James R. Barrett adds a useful new introduction and extensive notes providing a historical and scholarly framework for the story.