The Turbulent Years

A History of the American Worker, 1933–1941

By: Irving Bernstein

From the birth of the CIO to the sit-down strikes that helped to organize the auto industry, the 1930s have come to define the high point of labor militancy. In this groundbreaking work of labor history, Irving Bernstein uncovers a period when industrial trade unionism, working-class power, and socialism became rallying cries for millions of workers in the fields, mills, mines, and factories of America.

To be sure, contemporary observers see few signs of the kind of mass protests that characterized The Turbulent Years among those hard hit by economic crisis today. . . . But this was also the dominant view of the national mood during the run-up to the election of 1932. . . . True, here and there people protested, sometimes furiously. But overall, people seemed simply weary or defeated. But not for long. There are many lessons to be learned from The Turbulent Years, but perhaps the most potent is that the popular moods and understandings that fuel protest movements can change, and change rapidly. We should hope for this in our own time, and we should do more than hope. We should work to make it true.

The Turbulent Years is available from Haymarket Books