Working the Waterfront: The Ups and Downs of a Rebel Longshoreman

Gilbert Mers, Author University of Texas Press $19.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-292-76022-6
A pro-union monograph masquerading as oral history, this ultimately fails as either. Now retired, Mers, a longtime dock worker and union activist, recounts his 42 years of struggle for the principles of organized labor, concentrating on the heyday of the American labor movementroughly the period between the two world wars. The book, though, is not well enough researched to be a serious attempt to aid in understanding that period, and not personalized enough to allow more than a shallow understanding of the author as an individual. Prudent editing could have spared the reader from the overly folksy style as well as interminable rehashings of 50-year-old political squabbles and power struggles. Certainly, the reader can find occasional bits of eloquence, such as a call for sweeping changes in the economic system and the contention that leaders of organized labor are neglecting the principles they were elected to uphold. It is unfortunate that Mers allows his biases to overwhelm the story of a career that must have been more interesting in its occurrence than in its telling. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-0-292-72254-5
Open Ebook - 978-0-292-78813-8
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