The Reading List: Strikes

Alice-Azania Jarvis
Monday 27 June 2011 00:00


In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck, Penguin Modern Classics £14.99

Steinbeck's novel about politics and labour in the United States, In Dubious Battle, is set in California apple farming country, where a strike by migrant workers spirals out of control, becoming a bloody clash of ideologies.

Events are seen through the eyes of Jim Nolan, a disillusioned young man who joins the Communists and – at least initially – stokes the strike's furnaces.


The Enemy Within: Thatcher's Secret War Against The Miners by Seumas Milne, Verso Books £12.99

In this ground-breaking study, Milne reveals the extreme lengths to which the Conservative government was prepared to go to crush the miner's union. MI5 and police Special Branch were using phoney bank deposits, forged documents and agents provocateurs to trap their targets.


Tube Strike Haiku by Roger McGough, Copyright Roger McGough

Inspired by last autumn's tube strikes, McGough penned two works: "A Striking Soliloquy" and "Tube strike Haiku". The Haiku sees the tube trains affected by the commuters' distress while the tracks, like the striking workers, are said to be "enjoying the holiday/mice minding the gap".


Out Of This Furnace by Thomas Bell, University of Pittsburgh Press £15.50

Set in a steel town just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bell's work draws upon the experience of his own immigrant ancestors. Following the fate of a family of Austrian immigrants over three generations, it focuses on three pivotal strikes in America's history: the Homestead strikes of 1892, and the Great Steel Strike of 1919. Published in 1941, it fell out of print until being reissued in the 1970s. Since then it has been an American History staple.


GB84 by David Peace, Faber and Faber £8.99

Part fact, part fiction, Peace offers an epic tale of invented drama punctuated by real events and featuring real people. While the State is portrayed as unpleasant and aggressive, the National Union of Mineworkers and its leader Arthur Scargill are shown to be corrupt, incompetent and riddled with rivalries. The victims are the ordinary miners.

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