I was born and grew up in Somerville, NJ, received a BS in Mathematics from Lafayette College in Easton, PA, and went to work for IBM, Endicott in 1964; In 1968 I took a leave to go to Syracuse and finish the master’s degree program in physics I had begun through the IBM extension. I continued on to receive a Ph.D. in 1973 with a specialty in quantum electrodynamics. I had a relatively undistinguished academic career that included a career transition to computer science, a tenured position at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, and retirement in 2007. After retiring I felt I needed to do something more meaningful with my life–a selfish impulse that disregarded the needs and wishes of my wife and family. I always had the desire to write and some ability to do it well. I was drawn to this particular title by my admiration for Reuther, my affinity with many of the causes he championed, and my irritation at seeing one set of politicians using the word liberal as a derogatory epithet and the other set of politicians shying away from identification with it and doing nothing to defend it. Since the publication of this book I have been writing poetry and am compiling a volume of poems that I am looking to publish in the near future.
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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