Now Jimmy Hoffa was buried or something? Was that it?
November 4, 2011 2:30 PM   Subscribe

What is the best one stop book for the history of the American labor and union movement? Extra bonus points for a legal perspective.

I may have an opportunity to work with a law firm that does union side legal representation, and I realized I actually know very little about American labor and probably less about the relevant legal environment. What's the best weekend crash course book in American labor history?
posted by T.D. Strange to Law & Government (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's not precisely what you are asking for, but Which Side Are You On? is a fantastic book by a guy who's been practicing labor law (union-side) since the 1970s. It's structured as a memoir but it gets pretty discursive and talks a lot about the broader 20th-century labor movement, not just his personal experience. The focus is definitely more on the legal environment than it is in most general labor histories. (Full disclosure: he ran for congress once and I volunteered on his campaign.)
posted by enn at 2:50 PM on November 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Jimmy Hoffa, while this is not the answer you wanted, The Enemy Within, by Robert F. Kennedy is a really interesting read about insidious union corruption uncovered by a Senate investigation.
posted by loquat at 3:04 PM on November 4, 2011

Best answer: Nelson Lichtenstein's State of the Union: A Century of American Labor is a good and reasonably quick overview.
posted by susanvance at 3:33 PM on November 4, 2011

James Atleson's Values and Assumptions in American Labor Law is worth looking at. The War on Labor and the Left (Patricia Sexton) is good, and the classic left history is Philip Foner's History of the Labor Movement in the United States but at 10 vols. it's not a weekend.
posted by lathrop at 4:57 PM on November 4, 2011

This is good too: Labor's Untold Story.
posted by lathrop at 5:23 PM on November 4, 2011

There is Power in a Union
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:44 PM on November 4, 2011

Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States may be a little too broad, but is extremely effective. (And enjoyable to read.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:06 PM on November 4, 2011

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