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A David Montgomery Reader: Capitalism and Workers Resistance

By David Montgomery, Edited by Shelton Stromquist and James R. Barrett

A foundational figure in modern labor history, David Montgomery both redefined and reoriented the field. This collection of Montgomery’s most important published and unpublished articles and essays draws from the historian’s entire five-decade career.

Taken together, the writings trace the development of Montgomery’s distinct voice and approach while providing a crucial window into an era that changed the ways scholars and the public understood working people’s place in American history. Three overarching themes and methods emerge from these essays: that class provided a rich reservoir of ideas and strategies for workers to build movements aimed at claiming their democratic rights; that capital endured with the power to manage the contours of economic life and the capacities of the state but that workers repeatedly and creatively mounted challenges to the terms of life and work dictated by capital; and that Montgomery’s method grounded his gritty empiricism and the conceptual richness of his analysis in the intimate social relations of production and of community, neighborhood, and family life.


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