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A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World

by Paul Buhle, Nicole Schulman

ISBN 1844675254 / 9781844675258 / 1-84467-525-4
Publisher Verso
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Imagine being a workers' rights activist at the time of the Industrial Revolution. As shown in Wobblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, you had to have resolve as steely as anything produced on the factory floor. It's slightly ironic, then, to have these heroic, life-and-death tales of class warfare captured in the ephemeral medium of a comic book. Created as a collaboration between historians and graphic novelists, it is an engaging, informative, and sometimes uneven look at a time of violent social upheaval. The editors of this collection assume that their readers are at least somewhat familiar with the history of the Wobblies--this is not a children's primer. Many entries are similar, filled with pedantic text, but two in particular are superb, harnessing the potential power of the graphic novel form to great emotional effect. "Strike! (Lawrence 1912)," by Seth Tobocman, tells of ruling-class cruelty against striking workers with a ghostly grace born from its wood-cut graphical style. Nicole Schulman's "Mourn Not the Dead" strikes the right balance between storytelling and artistry, bringing the terrible reality of the Cook County Prison--where Wobblies died from mistreatment behind bars--to unforgettable reality. These entries alone fulfill the promise of a book that seeks to make the often overlooked history of the Wobblies relevant again. --Jennifer Buckendorff [via]