Labor Unions, Racism, and Communists in the Making of Modern Hawaii

Fighting in Paradise
Powerful labor movements played a critical role in shaping modern Hawai‘i, beginning in the 1930s, when International Longshore and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU) representatives were dispatched to the islands to organize plantation and dock laborers. The wartime civil liberties crackdown brought union organizing to a halt; but as the war wound down, Hawai‘i workers’ frustrations boiled over, leading to an explosive success in the forming of unions. During the 1950s, just as the ILWU began a series of successful strikes and organizing drives, the union came under McCarthyite attacks and persecution. Based on exhaustive archival research in Hawai‘i, California, Washington, and elsewhere, Fighting in Paradise: Labor Unions, Racism, and Communists in the Making of Modern Hawai‘i, by Gerald Horne, is the gripping story of Hawaii workers’ struggle to unionize; it reads like a suspense novel as it details for the first time how radicalism and racism helped shape Hawaii in the twentieth century.

“Gerald Horne offers readers an eye-opening account explaining how the labor movement and the left played decisive roles in moving Hawai‘i from feudal colony to the most progressive state in the union. Deeply researched and highly textured, Fighting in Paradise should be required reading for all citizens, Mainlanders especially, who seek to extricate our increasingly multicultural nation from its contemporary difficulties.” —Nelson Lichtenstein, Director, Center for the Study of Work, Labor, and Democracy, University of California, Santa Barbara

July 2011 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3549-1 / $28.99 (PAPER)