From International Socialism, No.19, Winter 1964/5, p.29.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
A History of British Trade Unions since 1889. Vol I: 1889-1910
H.A. Clegg, Alan Fox and A.F. Thompson
Oxford University Press, 55s.
It is a great pity that this History will be the standard work for years to come. Its credentials are impressive: not since the Webbs’ History, first published in 1894 and only slightly amended in later editions, has an undertaking of such magnitude been attempted. It is a monument to scholarship; a treasure-vault of facts; well written and beautifully produced. No one interested in the origins of the labour movement can afford to ignore it. Yet it is a work of immeasurable dullness without a trace of imaginative sympathy for the mass of workers engaged in claiming their share of self-respect through building the trade-union movement; and even less of the creativity needed to imbue the reader with an understanding of the times in terms of the problems seen at the time and their resolution. Perhaps a single author would have done better than the three; more probably, what is needed is a view of history.
Last updated on 4.9.2007