The Hammer: Power, Inequality, and the Struggle for the Soul of Labor

Hachette. Feb. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9780306830921. $30. ECON
Over the past few years, a wave of high-profile trade union actions in the United States has brought labor organizing to the forefront of the collective consciousness of the nation. Journalist Nolan, in his first book, offers a new and fresh perspective on the recent evolution of labor movements in the United States. In largely separate but thematically overlapping chapters, the book alternates between unraveling the histories of large and small unions across the country and following Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (an affiliate of the AFL-CIO), as she rises through the ranks of her union and navigates political obstacles. This important book shows how unions in a wide range of industries can utilize their inherent power and explores the complicated and necessary relationship between labor and politics, encouraging readers to examine how one affects the other.
VERDICT Well researched and reported, with a propulsive storytelling style. Nolan’s outstanding book will interest readers who follow news about equality efforts but might not be familiar with the complex world of labor organizing.
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