E. P. Thompson is a towering fi gure in the fi eld of labor history,
best known for his monumental and path-breaking work, The
Making of the English Working Class. But as this collection shows,
Thompson was much more than a historian: he was a dedicated
educator of workers, a brilliant polemicist, a skilled political theorist,
and a tireless agitator for peace, against nuclear weapons,
and for a rebirth of the socialist project.
The essays in this book, many of which are either out-of-print or
diffi cult to obtain, were written between 1955 and 1963 during
one of the most fertile periods of Thompson’s intellectual and
political life, when he wrote his two great works, The Making of
the English Working Class and William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary.
They reveal Thompson’s insistence on the vitality of a
humanistic and democratic socialism along with the value of utopian
thinking in radical politics. Throughout, Thompson struggles
to open a space independent of offi cial Communist Parties and
reformist Social Democratic Parties, opposing them with a vision of
socialism built from the bottom up. Editor Cal Winslow, who studied
with Thompson, provides context for the essays in a detailed
introduction and reminds us why this eloquent and inspiring voice
remains so relevant to us today.