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On the Line

A powerful collection of stories about factory life

A classic of the literature of work, On the Line reveals the essential vision of a writer who, almost alone of his generation, portrayed America's families and factories with empathy, compassion, and intelligence. Swados's important essay "The Myth of the Happy Worker" has been included as an appendix.

"At the time, it was a powerful, terribly moving study of flesh-and-blood beings, men on the assembly line, demeaned and destroyed by a machine that is the system. On rereading it today, it is more overwhelming because it is even closer to the bone. Swados's feeling and prescience have made this novel more true than just about any piece of nonfiction on the subject of the contemporary workplace."--Studs Terkel

"Harvey Swados was a writer who stood apart from the prevailing fashions of his time. On the Line still has more to tell us about worker discontent--about the actual experience and aspirations of the factory class in America--than all the studies amassed by the government bureaus and foundation research committees will ever equal."--Hilton Kramer, New York Times Book Review


Harvey Swados was the author of Out Went the Candle, False Coin, Standing Fast, and A Radical's America. He died in 1972. Nelson Lichtenstein is Distinguished Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include State of the Union: A Century of American Labor and Achieving Workers’ Rights in the Global Economy.

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