Eugene V. Debs: Citizen & Socialist (Working Class in American History)
Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926), regarded by many as America's premier labor leader, was founder of the Socialist party, five times Socialist candidate for the presidency, outspoken defender of the rights of all workers, and defiant critic of industrial capitalism. He was one of this nation's most... show more
Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926), regarded by many as America's premier labor leader, was founder of the Socialist party, five times Socialist candidate for the presidency, outspoken defender of the rights of all workers, and defiant critic of industrial capitalism. He was one of this nation's most vibrant personalities, most controversial reformers, and most persistently raised voices. Now, more than a half century after Debs's death, Nick Salvatore presents the most complete and authoritative biography of Debs yet written.
Working from a broad social perspective and from new manuscript materials that reveal much about Debs's personality, Salvatore offers a major reevaluation of Debs, the movements he launched, and his belief in Socialism as a patriotic extension of America's democratic traditions. Salvatore examines Debs's personal life from his early years in Terre Haute, Indiana, to his trade union days, and through the exciting but painful years as a Socialist leader. Among the highlights are Debs's involvement in the meteoric rise and fall of the American Railway Union, his founding of and incessant efforts to promote the Socialist party, his opposition to our participation in World War I, his subsequent imprisonment on charges of sedition, and his final presidential campaign — from behind bars.
Salvatore's main achievement, however, is to show with great sensitivity and in great detail the significant relationship between Debs's public image and his private life as child, sibling, husband, lover, and local citizen. The Debs who emerges from these pages is neither the wistful curiously footnoted in our traditional histories nor the glorified hero of his staunchest advocates. Salvatore's Debs, weaknesses intact, is very much a man of his times, a man frustrated and angered by the glaring inequities of a new economic order, and yet more willing than most to risk his life to change that system.