Milton Meltzer Almont Lindsey - Essay

Almont Lindsey

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Bread—and Roses: The Struggle of American Labor, 1865–1915] provides a somewhat kaleidoscopic view of the plight of the worker and the more dramatic episodes that have characterized his struggle for a better life…. The most exciting chapters are devoted to such conflicts as the Railroad Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Affair, the Homestead Strike, the Pullman Strike, the Textile Strike at Lawrence and the Ludlow Massacre. Drawing on carefully selected eyewitness accounts and skillfully weaving them into the narrative, the author makes everything come alive with telling effect.

Meltzer is an impassioned writer and he gives the impression of being very angry over the callousness and greed of management and the glaring injustices that confronted the worker. The author, who approaches the subject almost exclusively from the viewpoint of the embattled worker, has chosen his material judiciously and has marshalled it effectively. For the most part he lets the facts speak for themselves and they do carry a powerful message.

The absence of specific source citations, the very limited bibliography and the brevity of treatment (almost too sketchy in places) are blemishes in an otherwise excellent book. The dictionary of labor terms is helpful … and the author does achieve his purpose in producing a highly readable and fast moving account of the American worker as he lived and fought in an era when the odds were seldom in his favor.

Almost Lindsey, in his review of "Bread—and Roses: The Struggle of American Labor, 1865–1915" (reprinted by permission of the author), in The Social Studies, Vol. LIX, No. 6, November, 1968, p. 289.