Thursday, March 09, 2006

A New History of Haymarket

Hisotrian James Green has written a new history of the Haymarket tragedy. It won't replace Paul Avrich's definitive 1984 history, but it probably deserves a place along side it.

Caleb Crain reviews it in The New Yorker.

Green explains why he wrote another book on Haymarket on the History News Network

I was less concerned with retrying the case by revisiting the crime scene and courtroom than I was with creating new contexts for the Haymarket story.

The first context was the Great Upheaval in working class America that centered on Chicago during the 1886 struggle for the eight-hour day. I wanted to tie Haymarket to the birth of the nation’s first labor movement with all the dreams and hopes, passions and tensions it aroused. My editor and I believed that the reading public--historically-minded people who purchase and try to read huge historical biographies of presidents, generals and tycoons--had simply never encountered this story, or this kind of story, in reading popular non-fiction. I had long believed that labor history, though a somewhat marginalized field within the profession, was the repository of some of the most dramatic, even epic, stories in U.S. history.

Green's website is also worth a visit.

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