Today marks the 105th anniversary of a watershed moment in the history of American labor relations.
The Ludlow Massacre — and its Greek immigrant hero — remain one of the greatest little-known stories in United States’ history.
Stemming from conflict over labor rights, the massacre took place in Ludlow, Colorado where National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company guards attacked a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families.
In the end, approximately 21 people — including miners’ wives and children — died.
Among the dead was the coal miners’ strike leader, an immigrant named Louis Tikas from the Greek island of Crete.
In honor of his memory we have compiled a list of four books which cover how Greek immigrants such as Tikas influenced U.S. labor laws.
Tikas’ story is also told in the award-winning documentary “Palikari: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre,” which was released to commemorate the massacre’s 100th anniversary.
Here are four of our picks
1. A People’s History of the United States
By Howard Zinn
Covering Christopher Columbus’s arrival through President Clinton’s first term, A People’s History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.
Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People’s History of the United States is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of — and in the words of — America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country’s greatest battles — the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women’s rights, racial equality — were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.
2. A Terrible Unrest
By Philip Duke
When Spiro, Maria and Anna Andrakis, a young immigrant family from Greece, are unwillingly thrust into the maelstrom of the Colorado Coalfield War (1913-1914), the most brutal labor conflict in American history, they must overcome a series of tragedies that change their lives forever. A Terrible Unrest is a novel of desperate bravery and horrendous violence, of unflinching loyalty, abject betrayal and human survival.
3. Buried Unsung: Louis Tikas and the Ludlow Massacre
By Zeese Papanikolas
Louis Tikas was a union organizer killed in the battle between striking coal miners and state militia in Ludlow, Colorado, in 1914. In Buried Unsung he stands for a whole generation of immigrant workers who, in the years before World War I, found themselves caught between the realities of industrial America and their aspirations for a better life.
4. Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War
By Thomas G. Andrews
Killing for Coal offers a bold and original perspective on the 1914 Ludlow Massacre and the “Great Coalfield War.” In a sweeping story of transformation that begins in the coal beds and culminates with the deadliest strike in American history, Thomas Andrews illuminates the causes and consequences of the militancy that erupted in colliers’ strikes over the course of nearly half a century. He reveals a complex world shaped by the connected forces of land, labor, corporate industrialization, and workers’ resistance.
Brilliantly conceived and written, this book takes the organic world as its starting point. The resulting elucidation of the coalfield wars goes far beyond traditional labor history. Considering issues of social and environmental justice in the context of an economy dependent on fossil fuel, Andrews makes a powerful case for rethinking the relationships that unite and divide workers, consumers, capitalists, and the natural world.
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