A Labor Day Reading List

Celebrate the economic influence and social contributions of America’s workers with some great books about labor! We’ve compiled a PUP reading list for you to tackle over the long holiday weekend, along with some free chapter excerpts. Enjoy!

  Why Is There No Labor Party in the United States? by Robin Archer
Read the Introduction

Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock & Sara Laschever
Read the Introduction

Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies: Itinerant Experts in a Knowledge Economy by Stephen R. Barley & Gideon Kunda
Here’s Chapter 1

The Fifth Freedom: Jobs, Politics, and Civil Rights in the United States, 1941-1972 by Anthony S. Chen
Check out Chapter 1

 Inventing Equal Opportunity by Frank Dobbin
Here’s Chapter 1

Black and Blue: African Americans, the Labor Movement, and the Decline of the Democratic Party by Paul Frymer
Read Chapter 1

Working-Class Americanism: The Politics of Labor in a Textile City, 1914-1960  by Gary Gerstle

Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance by Boris Groysberg
Here’s the Introduction

 The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market  by Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane
Check out Chapter 1

State of the Union: A Century of American Labor by Nelson Lichtenstein
Read the Introduction

Human Capitalism: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter–and More Unequal by Brink Lindsey

  The American Manufactory: Art, Labor, and the World of Things in the Early Republic
Laura Rigal

Selling Women Short: Gender and Money on Wall Street by Louise Marie Roth
Read the Introduction

Innovation and Inequality: How Does Technical Progress Affect Workers? by Gilles Saint-Paul
Check out the Introduction

Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy by Viviana A. Zelizer
Read the Introduction


  1. Labor day doesn’t seem means as much now days considering the REAL unemployment rate in our country.

  2. Thank you very much for publishing this list. Too many among us pay far too little attention, much to our own disadvantage, to labor issues. I hope many who might not have previously thought about labor history, political economics, or any of the other topics explained by the works in this very well chosen list of books will pick up and read at least one of them and as a result come to understand where our standard of living came from and to where it is going if we continue to neglect the realities of society, big business, and realpolitik government that threaten to and have the power to take it away.