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A trade union obituary?

Admiring an unusual thing - a trade union history which isn't boring

By Denis MacShane   January 2001

Robert Taylor has achieved something unprecedented in the annals of trade union historiography. He has written a readable book on the TUC. Writing about trade unions is notoriously dull. From the Webbs onwards, the leaden nature of trade union bureaucracy infected the prose style of the academics who wrote about it.

But Taylor has borrowed a Lytton Strachey formula; his book could be called “Eminent Trade Union Bosses.” Telling the story through biographies of key union leaders in the 20th century brings the unions to life. But is Taylor really writing an obituary? The unions have been the most important…

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