[Review of the Book 'For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-95']
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[Excerpt] In this slim book, Clark D. Halker raises a series of complex and interrelated issues. Focusing on some 4,000 song-poems that appeared in the labour press in the late 19th century, Halker states that his purpose is to "expand knowledge of the musical and poetic history of the American working class;" to use these song-poems and their poets as "a lens into the larger world of Gilded-Age workers and labor protest;" and more specifically to examine the contours of a "movement culture" that, he acknowledges (14), was never coterminous with the whole of the working-class cultural experience. The result of this study, he suggests, establishes the existence of a distinctly working-class criticism of industrial capitalism, a critique rooted in the class-specific understandings of the American republican heritage, mechanic ideology (for example, producerism), and "the true religion*' of egalitarian Protestantism evident in these song-poems. Halker concludes his study with an effort to understand the decline of this movement culture in the years after 1895.
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Gilded Age; song-poems; working class; labor movement; worker rights
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