“Thanks to Shoup for a new, fresh investigation of this crucial period that though distant from our awareness, offers an inspiring saga of an engaged public.” – Chris Carlsson
Ruler and Rebels: A People’s History of Early California, 1769 – 1901, focuses on the dramatic but little known stories of early California history, written from the point of view of rank and file working people.
Rulers & Rebels is a unique mother lode of little known and almost forgotten aspects of early California history. It is written from the point of view of, and often in the very words of the rebellious: workers, native people, women, African-Americans, immigrants and the poor. What is common to these stories of resistance is that they have been excluded from the orthodox histories, the standard textbooks and the most powerful media outlets. Rulers and Rebels makes clear that any human rights we possess do not come from lawmakers and courts. They only become real and alive when we engage in direct action powerful enough to win our rights for ourselves. In this respect, the history of the rebellion and resistance of the majority reflects our real voice, releasing us from feelings of powerlessness and self blame while at the same time challenging everyone to continue the struggle for a more substantial and advanced democracy with real equality, solidarity and social justice. The numerous organized and unorganized rebellions, refusals, desertions, disruptions, demonstrations, boycotts, protests, walkouts, strikes and insurrections of the people show us that direct action is the main way forward. It is how democracy is actualized.
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The histories of 19th century San Francisco are increasingly romanticized, but Laurence Shoup goes back to the deeper class dynamics of those tumultuous decades to reveal a lively, very political, and remarkably resilient population that never greeted the corruption and exploitation that characterized the economy and government of the era with passivity and resignation. Thanks to Shoup for a new, fresh investigation of this crucial period that though distant from our awareness, offers an inspiring saga of an engaged public.
–Chris Carlsson, author Nowtopia, director Shaping San Francisco
“Larry Shoup has written a truly remarkable book, and a must-read for anyone interested in a real ‘people’s history’ of California. Shoup captures the true spirit of rebellion and protest that has been the long history of working class America, a history too often lost or glossed over by orthodox academic accounts. This book is well researched, insightful, and a quite lively read. The chapter on the lost history of the 1901 San Francisco General strike alone is worth the price of the book. Written in the tradition of Howard Zinn’s ‘peoples history’, Shoup’s book is in some ways even better, portraying the conflicts between classes in California in an even more politically illuminating way. The only criticism is, when will Shoup ever find the time to write the other 49 (states) working class histories as well?”
Jack Rasmus, Professor of Political Economy St. Marys College