Kelly tells this story with exhilaration ... a great read that utilizes biography in order to tell its story ... a timely reminder that labor battles have long been a part of American history. Kelly’s book is not only a wonderful distillation of why the 1894 Pullman strike still matters, but it also presents an excellent overview of what life was like in 1894—full of technological promise, and yet riddled with class conflict and economic warfare ... If America is indeed entering a new Gilded Age, then Jack Kelly’s The Edge of Anarchy should be read by those with a serious desire to avoid another civil war between workers, managers, owners, and the government.
The core of The Edge of Anarchy is a thrilling description of the boycott of Pullman cars and equipment by Eugene Debs’s fledgling American Railway Union ... Mr. Kelly closely scrutinizes the roles not only of the American Railway Union and management but of state, local and federal officials, the courts, industry, the press, activists, and labor. No one comes out unscathed.
If there is a consistent complaint about how Mr. Kelly tells this story, it is that he has produced a book about a visually rich period that contains almost no photographs ... Mr. Kelly’s book goes into fascinating detail about how 1893 unfolded with Gilded Age wonderment on display at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago ... Jack Kelly’s work presents an era that, though passed from collective memory, still resonates today, particularly in the Pittsburgh region. The Homestead strike and its emotional aftermath, though mitigated by many generations, continues to have an impact that lingers.