Brother Max: Labour Organizer and Educator
Gerald J. Stortz is an assistant professor of history at St. Jerome’s
College, University of Waterloo.
This book is a most interesting and informative work. Essentially an
autobiography by labor organizer Max Swerdlow—helped by some judicious
editing by Memorial University working-class historian Gregory
Kealey—the book is also a microcosmic history of the twentieth-century
Canadian labor movement, particularly in Quebec. While Swerdlow’s own
efforts in union organizing and in establishing the almost-legendary
labor colleges are fascinating, the most valuable aspect of this work
may be its insights into some of the major players in Canadian labor
history—such as Percy Bengough, Claude Jodoin, and the supposed
archenemy of Quebec labor, Premier Maurice Duplessis.
Swerdlow has pulled no punches in this account of his life: it is truly
a “warts and all” autobiography. Because of this, the book has a few
dull moments. Despite a rather unattractive physical presentation, for
anyone interested in Canadian labor history from the viewpoint of the
people who were there, this book is worth the price.