Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor

Atria. Jul. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9781982171056. $28. HIST
Kelly’s sweeping history of the American labor movement casts a wide swath from the trailblazing Pawtucket women weavers’ mill turnout in 1824, to the 2020 effort to organize Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, AL. Focusing on women and workers of color, invariably low-paid physical laborers, Kelly’s episodic survey details workplace contributions of usually ignored but essential folk. She marches with fiery Jewish girls in New York’s garment district, with women on the picket lines of southern mills, and with Black workers in Appalachian mines. She reaches across the country, covering disabled workers, sex workers, and prisoners’ work, and the diversified labor of Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Pacific Islander workers, particularly immigrants, in the fields and factories and on the rails and roads. S Kelly lauds revolutionaries and freedom fighters across class, gender, and race lines (Lucy Parsons; Mother Jones; Dr. Marie Equi; Cesar Chavez; Dorothy Lee Bolden) as vanguard workers who pushed for change in working conditions, psychology, and in society to redress capitalism’s cruelties.
VERDICT This accessible, inspiring, and instructive read belongs in school libraries, in university classrooms, and in general readers’ hands for its lessons about workers’ united power and the unfinished business of workplace justice.
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