Spartacus Review

Volume 57: 26th February, 2012

20th Century History

Title: The Unfinished Journey

Author: William H. Chafe

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Price: £40.00

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: The USA

Category: 20th Century History

Responds to the "Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences" identified several years ago by the U.S. National Research Council, with attention to topics such as biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, hyrologic forecasting, and land-use dynamics. This popular and classic text chronicles America's roller-coaster journey through the decades since World War II. Considering both the paradoxes and the possibilities of postwar America, William H. Chafe portrays the significant cultural and political themes that have colored our country's past and present, including issues of race, class, gender, foreign policy, and economic and social reform. He examines such subjects as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the origins and the end of the Cold War, the culture of the 1970s, the rise of the New Right, the events of September 11th and their aftermath, and various presidencies. Now thoroughly revised and updated, the seventh edition of The Unfinished Journey combines and reorganizes several chapters.

Title: Collision Course

Author: Joseph A. McCartin

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Price: £18.99

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: Ronald Reagan

Category: 20th Century History

In August 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) called an illegal strike. The new president, Ronald Reagan, fired the strikers, establishing a reputation for both prompt resolution and hostility to organized labor. As Joseph A. McCartin writes, the strike was the culmination of two decades of bitter hostility between labor management that stemmed from the high-pressure nature of the job and the controllers>' lack of control in the workplace. The fall of PATCO not only ushered in a long period of labor decline; it also served as a harbinger for the current campaign against public sector unions that now roils American politics. Collision Course sets the strike within a vivid panorama of the rise and near fall of the world>'s busiest air-traffic control system. It begins with an arresting account of the mid-air collision in 1960 over Park Slope, Brooklyn that cost 134 lives and exposed the weaknesses of an overburdened system. Through the stories of controllers like Mike Rock and Jack Maher, who were galvanized into action by the disaster and went on to found PATCO, McCartin describes the camaraderie and professionalism of those who sought to both make the airways safer and enter the ranks of a burgeoning middle class. It climaxes with the story of Reagan and the controllers, who surprisingly endorsed the Republican on the promise that he would address controllers>' grievances. That brief, fateful alliance triggered devastating miscalculations that changed the course of history, establishing patterns that still govern America>'s labor politics. Written with an eye for detail and a grasp of the vast consequences of PATCO conflict for both air travel and America>'s working class, Collision Course is a stunning achievement.