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Silvertown reviewed in Socialist Worker

Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement

The struggle for Silvertown

Trish Kahle reviews a book that uncovers the nearly lost history of a struggle that marked a turning point for the British working class movement.

July 16, 2014

THE AUTHOR and critic Walter Benjamin once wrote in an essay titled “On the Concept of History”: “There has never been a document of culture which is not simultaneously one of barbarism.” John Tully’s new book Silvertown is a well-researched examination of that very duality–with London, the 19th century heart of bourgeois imperial culture, at its center.

Although rightly categorized as a labor history, Tully’s study of the defeated strike in 1889 at Samuel Winkworth Silver’s rubber and electrical factory in London’s East End also probes the place this strike held in a rapidly changing world of production and politics in Britain.

Looking behind the image of the golden age of the British Empire, Tully shows us how the wonders of the industrial era were built on the backs–and corpses–of the English working class and those subjected to the tyrannical rule of the British Empire.

The 1889 Silvertown strikers took their inspiration from a recently successful dockworkers strike, which imbued them with a new sense of courage to demand higher wages. The poverty wages paid by Silver’s consigned workers to fetid living conditions that Tully brings to life in his book…

Read the entire review in Socialist Worker

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