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Synopsis

In this controversial and groundbreaking new history, Timothy Messer-Kruse rewrites the standard narrative of the most iconic event in American labor history: the Haymarket Bombing and Trial of 1886. Using thousands of pages of previously unexamined materials, Messer-Kruse demonstrates that, contrary to longstanding historical opinion, the trial was not the "travesty of justice" it has commonly been depicted as. Prosecutors in the trial successfully brought to light a daunting amount of evidence revealing the inner workings of an anarchist conspiracy to spark insurrection by attacking police, and connected their plans to the bomber through a solid chain of evidence. Rather than being an example of "judicial murder," the Haymarket trial was a tragic case of judicial suicide, as the defense chose to use the trial as a grandstand for anarchism rather than deploy a sound legal defense. Though bumblers in the courtroom, the anarchist lawyers proved adept in the court of public opinion and succeeded in influencing the way historians and activists would remember this event for the next 125 years. Exhaustively researched and forcefully argued, this is a vital new contribution to our understanding of labor history and the world of Gilded Age America.

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