Mark Dudzic--labor activist, Labor Party engine, and heir to the mantle of the great Tony Mazzocchi--does not write that much stuff, but what he does produce is always worth reading. His review of Stayin' Alive is one of the most scathing I've read, but I pretty much can't argue with too much of it. He's serious,
sympathetic, and intellectually alive in this piece, even if he's tearing the crap out of the book on occasion. I really agree that I didn't adequately capture the mood of an age when you could get a job anywhere and therefore tell the boss to go to hell when you wanted. The one thing he doesn't quite get is that the book is about the collapse of the idea/ideal of the working class in American civic life--that ideas about who we are, that the menu of identity one can draw from in a culture, matters. Therefore the "artery clogging" pop stuff is suggestive of how we think about ourselves as a culture. It's not all material, brother. Nonetheless, an excellent read: Mark Dudzic, "Workingman's Blues" in 1st of the Month.org: A Website of the Radial Imagination.
Also attacking from the left, but from what seems to me a bit less intellectually serious position, is the eminent Steve Fraser--biographer of Sidney Hillman, chronicler of the history of Wall Street, and editor-at-large of New Labor Forum. Usually a pretty smart guy, he unfortunately comes across in this essay in the London Review of Books as something less interesting than usual. He returns to the Cold War purges as the reason for the fall of labor (the left's great monocausal explanation of all things: they purged us in the forties!). He also plays around the periphery of the subject, zeroing in on stuff that is not central: he grinds his axe about my occasional invocation of the Gilded Age as historical metaphor; he hates the "long exception" implications (which are mostly implied); and, finally, does the classic mistake of conflating current events (this time Tea Party overreach) with the seeds of a new working class insurrection. Fraser also misreads the relationship between identity politics and class politics that I'm trying to argue, something Dudzic got completely. Kind of tired and disjointed by my reckoning, but I may have just been looking forward to a much more serious engagement by someone whose work I really respect. You can check it out here: Steve Fraser, "Thanks to the Tea Party," London Review of Books.