Joe Hill

Joe Hill

The IWW and the Making of a Revolutionary Workingclass Counterculture

By Franklin Rosemont


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Joe Hill (1877-1915) is the best-known figure in the heroic history of the Industrial Workers of the World (a.k.a. Wobblies). US labour’s most world-renowned martyr and celebrated songwriter, he is remembered above all for his songs in the Little Red Song Book: “The Preacher and the Slave” (“Pie in the Sky”), “Mr Block,” “There Is Power in a Union,” and many more that are still popular on picket lines today.

A monumental work that explores the issues that Joe Hill raised—capitalism, white supremacy, gender, religion, wilderness, law, prison, industrial unionism—and their enduring relevance and impact in the century since his death. Collected too is all of his art, plus scores of other illustrations featuring Hill-inspired art by IWWs from Ralph Chaplin to Carlos Cortez, as well as other labour artists.


Magnificent, practical, irreverent and (as one might say) magisterial, written in a direct, passionate, sometimes funny, deeply searching style.

– Peter Linebaugh, author of Stop, Thief

Rosemont seems to have hunted down every available detail of Hill’s short life and abiding legend.

– Los Angeles Times

Rosemont’s treatment of Joe Hill is passionate, polemical, and downright entertaining. What he gives us is an extended and detailed argument for considering both Hill and the IWW for their contributions toward creating an autonomous and uncompromising alternative culture.

– Gordon Simmons, Labor Studies Journal

It has been a long time since so much new material on Joe Hill and the Wobblies has been collected in one volume. All students of the IWW, labor cartoons and songs, radical humor, and the history of blue-collar countercultures in the U.S. will find this book indispensable.

– Salvatore Salerno, editor of The Big Red Songbook

Joe Hill has finally found a chronicler worthy of his revolutionary spirit, sense of humor, and poetic imagination.

– Robin D.G. Kelley , author of Freedom Dreams


Joe Hill's Artwork
A Note on the Notes
Introduction Troubadour of Discontent
Chapter 1 Joe Hill & His Union
Chapter 2 The Wobbly Bard
Chapter 3 A Free-Spirited Internationalist
Chapter 4 A Classic Case of Frame-Up
Chapter 5 Joe Hill and the Arts
Chapter 6 Joe Hill Myths
Chapter 7 The IWW & the White Problem
Chapter 8 Women Wobblies & Wobbly Feminism
Chapter 9 Wobblies versus “Sky Pilots”
Chapter 10 Cops & Wobblies: Law, Crime, Prison & the Struggle for Working-Class Emancipation
Chapter 11 Wobblies versus Stalinism
Chapter 12 Wobblies & Wilderness
Chapter 13 Joe Hill, the Wobblies & the Beat Generation
Chapter 14 Wobbly Poetics in Theory and Practice
Chapter 15 The IWW Counterculture & Vernacular Surrealism
Chapter 16 “Yours for a Change”