The dramatic story of the explosive 1894 clash of industry, labor, and government that shook the nation and marked a turning point for America
The Edge of Anarchy offers a vivid account of the greatest uprising of working people in American history. At the pinnacle of the Gilded Age, a boycott of Pullman sleeping cars by hundreds of thousands of railroad employees brought commerce to a standstill across much of the country. Famine threatened, riots broke out along the rail lines. Soon the US Army was on the march and gunfire rang from the streets of major cities.
This epochal tale offers fascinating portraits of two iconic characters of the age. George Pullman, who amassed a fortune by making train travel a pleasure, thought the model town that he built for his workers would erase urban squalor. Eugene Debs, founder of the nation's first industrial union, was determined to wrench power away from the reigning plutocrats. The clash between the two men's conflicting ideals pushed the country to what the US attorney general called ""the ragged edge of anarchy.""
Many of the themes of The Edge of Anarchy could be taken from today's headlines--upheaval in America's industrial heartland, wage stagnation, breakneck technological change, and festering conflict over race, immigration, and inequality. With the country now in a New Gilded Age, this look back at the violent conflict of an earlier era offers illuminating perspectives along with a breathtaking story of a nation on the edge.
Kelly vividly portrays the personalities involved, from elected officials to labor leaders, and makes the tensions of the time quite contemporary.-- "Booklist (starred review)"
Fascinating, shocking, and filled with surprises.-- "Lauren Belfer, New York Times bestselling author, on Heaven's Ditch"
Kelly's vigorous narrative serves well to set down the facts of a turbulent, little-known history.-- "Kirkus Reviews"
Jack Kelly is a journalist, novelist, and historian, whose books include Band of Giants: The Amateur Soldiers Who Won America's Independence, which received the History Award Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, American Heritage, and other national periodicals and is fellow of the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has appeared on the History Channel and been interviewed on National Public Radio.