Mar 31

Harvey Schwartz, Labor Historian, Review

Harry Bridges, the founding and long serving president of the West Coast and Hawaii-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union, was one of the most polarizing figures of mid-twentieth century American history. Between 1934 and 1955, the Australian-born Bridges was hounded mercilessly by an assortment of politically motivated vigilantes, government prosecutors, and perjured witnesses who wanted him deported for his alleged Communist Party membership. Although the Bridges proceedings twice reached the Supreme Court, no charges against the longshore leader were ever proved. Much has been written about Bridges and his union, but until recently there has not been a book-length study of the longshoreman’s legal difficulties. Now Peter Afrasiabi has provided us with a systematic, case-by-case analysis of all of the legal, ethical, and political issues surrounding the Bridges trials. Comprehensive and convincingly argued, Afrasiabi’s thoroughly researched volume is a welcome contribution to the existing literature about American legal, political, and labor history.

— Harvey Schwartz is one of the leading labor historians in the United States with respect to the 20th-century labor struggles on the West Coast.  He has authored many acclaimed books including Solidarity Stories, The March Inland, and Building the Golden Gate Bridge.

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