The Richard A. Lester Book Award

Announcing the 2022 Richard A. Lester Book Award Recipient

Headshot of Ahmed White

Ahmed White, author of Under the Iron Heel: The Wobblies and the Capitalist War on Radical Workers.

Under the Iron Heel book cover

White, Ahmed. Under the Iron Heel: The Wobblies and the Capitalist War on Radical Workers. Oakland, California: University of California Press, 2022.

White’s book provides a clear and well-researched history of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) whose members were known as the Wobblies during the early 20th century. The IWW took on the ambitious task of combining the entire working class of mining, industrial, agricultural, and lumber workers into one union. The book provides details about the brutal tactics used to destroy this union, including arrests, assaults, and imprisonment. Further, it discusses the process by which the mistreatment of the Wobblies was justified by the state and tolerated by the public. Issues relating to free speech, political power and control over labor unions are discussed in depth.

- Annotation by Charissa O. Jefferson, Labor Economics Librarian

About Richard A. Lester and the Annual Book Award

The Industrial Relations Section has both an annual book award (see below) and a fellowship named in honor of Richard A. Lester.

Richard A. Lester's ties with Princeton and the Industrial Relations Section began in 1929, when he enrolled as a graduate student in economics. Lester served as an instructor at Princeton (1934-38), and returned as Associate Professor and Research Associate of the Industrial Relations Section in 1945. He served as Chairman of the Economics Department from 1948 to 1955 and from 1961 to 1968, and as Dean of the Faculty from 1968 to 1973. Lester was one of the founders of the Industrial Relations Research Association and was elected its president in 1956. He served in Washington in various capacities between 1940 and 1944, and was vice-chairman of the President's Commission on the Status of Women from 1961 to 1963.

In recognition of Richard Lester's contribution to the fields of Labor Economics and Industrial Relations and his many years of service to the Industrial Relations Section, the Section has established in his name an annual award for the outstanding book in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics. The award is presented to the book making the most original and important contribution toward understanding the problems of industrial relations, and the evolution of labor markets.

Nominations from authors or publishers are not solicited nor accepted; this is an independent selection process.