The rise of the American labor movement was characterized by explosive struggles for the most basic rights. From the martyrdom of the famous Molly Maguires in the Pennsylvania coalfields in the nineteenth century to the great sitdown strikes of the 1930s, the history of the American labor movement is filled with pitched battles that frequently erupted into open warfare. Here, celebrated historian Sidney Lens chronicles these great labor battles, the contentious struggles to lead them, and the leaders generated by the working-class movement: Eugene Debs, Samuel Gompers, Mother Jones, Lucy and Albert Parsons, William Z. Foster, Bill Haywood, John L. Lewis, Walter Reuther, and more—many of them Lens' personal friends. In Labor Wars, Lens demonstrates how, contrary to conventional wisdom, the struggle of workers for decent pay and conditions on the job, democracy, and social justice has played a far more pivotal role in shaping American life than any president or general. In gripping detail, Labor Wars rescues the rich tradition of working-class rebellion that has so powerfully defined our history.