Death in the Haymarket (Hardcover)

A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America

By James Green

Pantheon, 9780375422379, 400pp.

Publication Date: March 7, 2006

List Price: 26.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


On May 4, 1886, a bomb exploded at a Chicago labor rally, wounding dozens of policemen, seven of whom eventually died. Coming in the midst of the largest national strike Americans had ever seen, the bombing created mass hysteria and led to a sensational trial, which culminated in four controversial executions. The trial seized headlines across the country, created the nation’s first red scare and dealt a blow to the labor movement from which it would take decades to recover.

Death in the Haymarket
brings these remarkable events to life, re-creating a tempestuous moment in American social history. James Green recounts the rise of the first great labor movement in the wake of the Civil War and brings to life the epic twenty-year battle for the eight-hour workday. He shows how the movement overcame numerous setbacks to orchestrate a series of strikes that swept the country in 1886, positioning the unions for a hard-won victory on the eve of the Haymarket tragedy.

As he captures the frustrations, tensions and heady victories, Green also gives us a rich portrait of Chicago, the Midwestern powerhouse of the Gilded Age. We see the great factories and their wealthy owners, including men such as George Pullman, and we get an intimate view of the communities of immigrant employees who worked for them. Throughout, we are reminded of the increasing power of newspapers as, led by the legendary Chicago Tribune editor Joseph Medill, they stirred up popular fears of the immigrants and radicals who led the unions.

Blending a gripping narrative, outsized characters and a panoramic portrait of a major social movement, Death in the Haymarket is an important addition to the history of American capitalism and a moving story about the class tensions at the heart of Gilded Age America.

Praise For Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement, and the Bombing That Divided Gilded Age America

“James Green tells a powerful story of Chicago, America and the industrial world of the nineteenth century. His talents as a historian and a writer bring to life social and political struggles that helped make modern American society.”
—Steven Hahn, Pulitzer Prize winning author of A Nation Under our Feet

“Green’s re–creation of this terrible moment exposes the deep divisions that marred America at the dawn of the industrial age. As the nation again struggles with wrenching economic change, we need to hear the story that Death in the Haymarket so passionately tells.”
—Kevin Boyle, National Book Award winning author of Arc of Justice

“The Haymarket affair was a pivotal event in United States history. Green explains its significance with a scholar’s sure grasp of context and a storyteller’s skill at weaving a dramatic narrative.”
—Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan

“Armed with the research tools of the historian and the literary skill of the novelist, Green tells the dramatic story of Haymarket and of the world of Chicago labor in the late nineteenth century better than it has ever been told before.”
—Eric Foner, author of The Story of American Freedom

“It’s about time that the great dramas in the rise of an American labor movement earned center stage in the history of American capitalism. Death in the Haymarket is a great read—and a required one.”
—Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers’ Republic

“Filled with the suspense of a good novel, Death in the Haymarket vividly illuminates the shifting industrial terrain of late nineteenth-century America. This is a work of art as well as history.”
—Alice Kessler-Harris, Bancroft Prize winning author of In Pursuit of Equity