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170 Book Reviews For All White-Collar Workers: The Possibilities of Radicalism in New York City’s Department Store Unions, 1934–1953 Daniel J. Opler Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007, 270 pp. ISBN 0814210635 (hardcover), $49.95. W ith the rise of the service economy, the demise of organized labor, and now an economic downturn comparable to the one Opler writes about, this history of the unskilled labor of the service economy provides some necessary perspective. Opler’s six chapters cover the roughly two decades between the early Roosevelt years to the McCarthy era and center mostly on Local 1250 in New York. Because the labor force of primary concern in For All White-Collar Workers is a mostly female one, and over half of the book covers the 1930s, Opler also provides new insight into the experiences of women in this era. Opler explores a sub-theme of public space that seems to derive from his thorough understanding of the dynamics of labor organizing. As Opler points out, space was (and is) a crucial aspect to union campaigns. The organizers and workers themselves recognized the need to occupy or claim public space. The later failure to appropriate space for the union in part doomed the efforts of organizers in the 1950s. In Opler’s research this plays out both within the setting of the retail stores and on the sidewalks outside and in the parks. Opler’s treatment of Communist involvement is also commendable. As the Cold War continues to be fought in some academic circles, Opler has aligned himself with the “localists,” who find in local circumstances the motivations for Commu
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