Steve Nelson, American Radical

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University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 454 pages
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As the immigrant teenage son of a Croatian miller, Steve Nelson arrived in the United States after World War I and entered a world of chronic unemployment, low wages, dangerous work, and discrimination. Following the path taken by many fellow immigrant workers, he joined the Communist Party. He became a full-time organizer and ultimately a major leader, only to resign in 1957 after unsuccessful attempts to democratize the American party.

This remarkable oral biography, recounted in collaboration with two historians, describes day-to-day life in the party and traces Nelson's career from his beginnings in the Pennsylvania coalfields to his secret work as party courier in the Far East; form the battlefields of Civil War Spain to the jails of Cold War Pittsburgh; and from a small group of Communist autoworkers in Detroit to the upper reaches of a party leadership in New York. It is the frank and analytical account of a leading American working-class activist.

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About the author (1992)

STEVE NELSON teaches musical theatre and popular performance in the Department of Drama at New York University and produces an historical recordings series of noted songwriters performing their own songs, including Cole Porter, Frank Loesser, and Yip Harburg.

Barrett is a professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Rob Ruck teaches history at the University of Pittsburgh and is the author of "Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh" and other books. He was project director for the film "Kings on the Hill," an Emmy-winning documentary on Negro League baseball.

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