Walter Reuther was a central figure in many of the events, movements, and issues that defined mid 20th century America. The book is not strictly a biography of Reuther. It also provides a snapshot of the turbulent and momentous era in which he lived. It encapsulates Reuther’s life from his formative years through his early organizing efforts to his rise to prominence in the UAW and as a National figure with influence in Democratic politics, the Civil Rights Movement, and his authorship of plans to address diverse issues from War production, the Peace Corps, healthcare to nuclear power. He was a presence on the international stage. He toured India and was praised by Nehru in a diplomatic mission to soothe frayed relations between the two countries. He had contentious meetings with Mikoyan and Khrushchev. He was a friend and confidant to the Social-Democratic leaders of Western Europe and Israel.
The book is organized into chapters describing the early history of the labor movement, the struggles at GM and Ford, WW2 on the home front, The Treaty of Detroit, Civil Rights, Vietnam, the Great Society, and the Aftermath reaction to the social upheavals of the sixties. It begins with the jump into modernity that occurred during the two decades surrounding the start of the 20th century with urban electrification, automobiles, flight, motion pictures, wireless, relativity, and quantum mechanics. The United States was well-positioned to take advantage of these developments, and escape the devastation to its economy and infrastructure from the two World Wars It ends by examining how these advantages have changed as we enter the 21st century.
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