Michael Goldfield, Wayne State University, Oxford University Press, 2020, 428.p
The South is today, as it always has been, the key to understanding American society, its politics, its constitutional anomalies and government structure, its culture, its social relations, its music and literature, its media focus, its blind spots, and virtually everything else. The Southern Key argues that much of what is important in American politics and society today was largely shaped by the successes and failures of the labor movements of the 1930s and 1940s, and most notably the failures of southern labor organizing during this period. It also argues that these failures, despite some important successes in organizing interracial unions, left the South (and consequentially much of the rest of the United States as well) racially backward and open to right-wing demagoguery. These failures have led to a nationwide decline in unionization, growing economic inequality, and overall failures to confront white supremacy head on. In an in-depth look at unexamined archival material and detailed data, The Southern Key challenges established historiography, both telling a tale of race, radicalism, and betrayal and arguing that the outcome was not at all predetermined.