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Labour History and the Labour Movement in Britain, by Sidney Pollard; pp. vi + 313. Aldershot and Brookfield, VT: Ashgate, 1999, [pounds sterling]57.50, $105.95.
Thomas Burt, Miners' MF 1837 - 1922: The Great Conciliator, by Lowell J. Satre; pp. vii + 200. London and New York: Leicester University Press, 1999, [pounds sterling]50.00, $75.00.
As is generally known, British labor history has changed dramatically since it emerged as a separate field of inquiry about a century ago. Usually regarded as the founding text, Sidney and Beatrice Webb's History of Trade Unionism (1894) focused on the evolution of established institutions and had a thinly disguised political goal, to justify their belief in the "inevitability of gradualness." G. D. H. Cole and Raymond Postgate's The Common People, 1746-1938 (1938) added a social and economic dimension to the study of institutional and political change. They looked at living standards, changes in wages, diet, housing; in general, they vastly expanded the idea of labor history to include the experience of the working class itself. But their overall aim remained the same as the Webbs', to present a success story, in which the end, the emergence of a powerful Labour party and trade union …