Communists’ Role in the Unions

Communists’ Role in the Unions

Labor and Communism: The Conflict That
Shaped American Unions, by Bert Cochran.
Princeton: Princeton University Press. 394 pp.
Cloth, $25.00; paper, $6.95.

As a participant and survivor of the labor and radical struggles of the 1930s and 1940s, Bert Cochran has substantial credentials for undertaking this major study. The result is a fascinating, controversial, and important book. Cochran knows politics, trade unionism, and had the benefit of personal experiences with many Communist and non-Communist union leaders.

For students of the American left, this is a valuable reference along with such publications as Theodore Draper’s two volumes on the early days of the Communist movement and the history of the American Communist party by Lewis Coser and Irving Howe. Cochran fleshes out previous portraits of a variety of figures, among them Jay Lovestone, John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, Harry
Bridges, Earl Browder, and Philip Murray. The research is impressive and his analysis well-documented.