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

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9780292722545: Working the Waterfront: The Ups and Downs of a Rebel Longshoreman
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"Somebody said, 'History is written by the winners. The losers have nothing to say.' This book is by one of the losers, a bit player, not the star of the drama." So begins Gilbert Mers in these personal recollections of forty-two years on the Texas waterfront as longshoreman and radical union activist. But far from having "nothing to say," Mers reveals himself as a thoughtful philosopher of democratic ideals and eloquent agitator for union reform. He challenges the conventional wisdom that the leader is more valuable than the led. He contends that long tenure in positions of power dulls the union officer's working-class instincts. Always one to row against the current, Mers believes the union exists for the benefit of its members!

This is primary material of the best kind, vivid and evocative, and Mers, in his eighties at the time of writing the book, is an unusually vigorous and articulate spokesman for a democratic and humane unionism.

Whether he is describing the sweaty, dangerous and back-breaking work of loading cotton bales into the hold of an outbound ship or the gut-gripping tension of a face-to-face encounter with Texas Rangers bent on "law and order," Mers writes with the voice and conscience of the rank-and-file worker. He paints the waterfront world as it was, and perhaps still is—full of danger, humor, dignity in demoralizing circumstances, frustration, struggle, and sometimes hope—and tells his story with such wry humanity that even those who disagree with his destination will enjoy the ride.

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From Publishers Weekly:

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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review:

"What Mers is writing about--the day-to-day experiences of men on the docks--is the vital social history that has been missing from so many historical accounts of waterfront unions. It is undoubtedly more important to have these accounts now than to have any more histories about the leadership." --from the introduction

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Book Description University of Texas Press 1/1/1988, 1988. Paperback or Softback. Condition: New. Working the Waterfront: The Ups and Downs of a Rebel Longshoreman. Book. Seller Inventory # BBS-9780292722545

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Book Description University of Texas Press, United States, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Somebody said, History is written by the winners. The losers have nothing to say. This book is by one of the losers, a bit player, not the star of the drama. So begins Gilbert Mers in these personal recollections of forty-two years on the Texas waterfront as longshoreman and radical union activist. But far from having nothing to say, Mers reveals himself as a thoughtful philosopher of democratic ideals and eloquent agitator for union reform. He challenges the conventional wisdom that the leader is more valuable than the led. He contends that long tenure in positions of power dulls the union officer s working-class instincts. Always one to row against the current, Mers believes the union exists for the benefit of its members! This is primary material of the best kind, vivid and evocative, and Mers, in his eighties at the time of writing the book, is an unusually vigorous and articulate spokesman for a democratic and humane unionism. Whether he is describing the sweaty, dangerous and back-breaking work of loading cotton bales into the hold of an outbound ship or the gut-gripping tension of a face-to-face encounter with Texas Rangers bent on law and order, Mers writes with the voice and conscience of the rank-and-file worker. He paints the waterfront world as it was, and perhaps still is-full of danger, humor, dignity in demoralizing circumstances, frustration, struggle, and sometimes hope-and tells his story with such wry humanity that even those who disagree with his destination will enjoy the ride. Seller Inventory # APC9780292722545

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Book Description University of Texas Press, United States, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Somebody said, History is written by the winners. The losers have nothing to say. This book is by one of the losers, a bit player, not the star of the drama. So begins Gilbert Mers in these personal recollections of forty-two years on the Texas waterfront as longshoreman and radical union activist. But far from having nothing to say, Mers reveals himself as a thoughtful philosopher of democratic ideals and eloquent agitator for union reform. He challenges the conventional wisdom that the leader is more valuable than the led. He contends that long tenure in positions of power dulls the union officer s working-class instincts. Always one to row against the current, Mers believes the union exists for the benefit of its members! This is primary material of the best kind, vivid and evocative, and Mers, in his eighties at the time of writing the book, is an unusually vigorous and articulate spokesman for a democratic and humane unionism. Whether he is describing the sweaty, dangerous and back-breaking work of loading cotton bales into the hold of an outbound ship or the gut-gripping tension of a face-to-face encounter with Texas Rangers bent on law and order, Mers writes with the voice and conscience of the rank-and-file worker. He paints the waterfront world as it was, and perhaps still is-full of danger, humor, dignity in demoralizing circumstances, frustration, struggle, and sometimes hope-and tells his story with such wry humanity that even those who disagree with his destination will enjoy the ride. Seller Inventory # APC9780292722545

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Book Description University of Texas Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 308 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.1in. x 0.9in.Somebody said, History is written by the winners. The losers have nothing to say. This book is by one of the losers, a bit player, not the star of the drama. So begins Gilbert Mers in these personal recollections of forty-two years on the Texas waterfront as longshoreman and radical union activist. But far from having nothing to say, Mers reveals himself as a thoughtful philosopher of democratic ideals and eloquent agitator for union reform. He challenges the conventional wisdom that the leader is more valuable than the led. He contends that long tenure in positions of power dulls the union officers working-class instincts. Always one to row against the current, Mers believes the union exists for the benefit of its members!This is primary material of the best kind, vivid and evocative, and Mers, in his eighties at the time of writing the book, is an unusually vigorous and articulate spokesman for a democratic and humane unionism. Whether he is describing the sweaty, dangerous and back-breaking work of loading cotton bales into the hold of an outbound ship or the gut-gripping tension of a face-to-face encounter with Texas Rangers bent on law and order, Mers writes with the voice and conscience of the rank-and-file worker. He paints the waterfront world as it was, and perhaps still isfull of danger, humor, dignity in demoralizing circumstances, frustration, struggle, and sometimes hopeand tells his story with such wry humanity that even those who disagree with his destination will enjoy the ride. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780292722545

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