Tony Mazzocchi the subject of this fascinating biography that brilliantly illustrates not only the life of an interesting man and his personal journey through the second half of twentieth century American Labor and Politics but also how that man with his gifts and foibles walked a razors edge between leadership and banishment in the American Labor scene. Skillful use of common everyday work-a-day language as well as obvious solid research results in an easy and captivating read. Les Leopold displays a profound gift for not only capturing this life, but placing it in context as an important piece, and curious example, of both American Labor History, and in my judgment American History proper. Warts and all, you get Mazzocchi and the sweep of story after story of encounters with notable labor figures starting just after WWII, progressing steadily into the beginnings of the Red Scare, with no apologies made for an association with Communists at an early stage in his long career. Along the way we read of many examples where skill and tremendous energy propel a nearly unstoppable drive to create the "old style" Unions of lore and legend, in a time when manufacturing was still prevalent and important to local economies, so much so that factories of all sorts were located close by to, and even in big cities like New York and Boston. Perhaps the most famous person Tony Mazzochi encountered in his life was Karen Silkwood, and in the pages of this work Leopold describes the story of what happened to her in a tough uncompromising way, a bit more human, and even more troubling than the film portrail. A recent check of the listing for Silkwood on wikipedia makes little mention of Mazzochi's role in the tragic story, which to my sensibilities illustrates how easy it is to marginalize organized labor, but here, we are presented with a more complete picture, and just how close Tony Mazzochi came to the same fate as Karen Silkwood.
Infiltration of the Labor Movement by CIA and other "spook clubs" is well documented by other authors, and Leopold holds nothing back of what he learned by research as well as interviews as he names names and tells it like it was, and in doing so, illustrates all the more how remarkable it was that Tony Mazzochi had as long a career as he did. This book moved me in ways that few biographies have, with it's honesty, force of narrative, and insight into how the personality of one figure in time can weather the storms, self imposed as well as brought on by the struggles for something larger than self preservation, a life of struggle but of profound impact on others, generally for good, but not without casualty to loved ones, I felt a profound affirmation in the pages of this book, and in the story of this mans life.
About 60 people attended last night's book party celebrating the publication of Les Leopold's "The Man Who Hated Work But Loved Labor."
We sold about 120 books and raised money to buy an additional 42 books for distribution by the Boston Librarian's Union to local libraries.
At the party we discussed the importance of using our grassroots networks to spread the word about the book. Please send a me or Les Leopold a copy of any promotional email that you send out. I'll also send everyone Steve Early's review in the Progressive as soon as it's published.
Visit the cool website www.tonymazzocchi.org where you can read excerpts and reviews, make comments and see the book tour schedule.
Get your friends in other cities to sponsor an event or attend one.
...is a place for friends, associates, and anyone interested in Tony Mazzocchi. We invite you to send any memories you might have of Tony, or comments on The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor, a new biography of Tony Mazzocchi by Les Leopold. Correspondence can be sent to Rodrigo Toscano (site editor) at mazzocchidiscussion (at) yahoo (dot) com