More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York's Year of Anarchy

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More Powerful Than Dynamite: Radicals, Plutocrats, Progressives, and New York's Year of Anarchy


About More Powerful Than Dynamite

In 1914 the United States was on the verge of revolution: industrial depression in the east, striking coal miners in Colorado, and increasingly tense relations with Mexico. In New York, the trouble began in January when a crushing winter caused homeless shelters to overflow. By April, anarchists paraded past industrialists' mansions, and tens of thousands filled Union Square demanding “Bread or Revolution.” Then, on July 4, a detonation destroyed a Harlem tenement in the largest explosion the city had ever seen. Among the dead were three bomb-makers-incited by anarchist Alexander Berkman-who were preparing to dynamite the estate of John D. Rockefeller Jr., widely vilified for a massacre of his company's striking workers that spring.

More Powerful Than Dynamite charts how anarchist anger, progressive idealism, and plutocratic influence converged in that July explosion. Its cast includes celebrated figures such as Emma Goldman, Upton Sinclair, and Andrew Carnegie and the fascinating but heretofore little known, including Frank Tannenbaum, a teenager who insisted churches provide shelter for the homeless; police inspector Max Schmittberger, too honest for his department and too crooked for everyone else; and Becky Edelsohn, a young anarchist known for her red tights and for spitting in millionaires' faces. Historian and journalist Thai Jones creates a fascinating portrait of a city on the edge of chaos coming to terms with modernity.


“An engrossing account of the events of 1914.” –  Sam Roberts, The New York Times

More Powerful Than Dynamite read[s] like the best of novels. Jones' retelling of the year is filled with action, subterfuge and an unbelievable number of textured plotlines…. [He] captures the actors and events with a deftness and polish rarely seen in historical nonfiction.” –  Alex Lemon, The Dallas Morning News

“[A] fascinating new book…. Though Jones is chiefly concerned with the anarchist movement and other political events of 1914, his book is also packed with fascinating asides about various social and cultural goings-on in early 20th-century New York City.” –  Kevin Canfield, The Daily Beast

“Thai Jones peels back the layers with a delicious new history....The story is told not so much as an analysis from above or with the 20/20 hindsight of history, but rather as a propulsive narrative of the positionings and repositionings of various social forces as they roiled along through the year.” –  Rick Ayers, The Huffington Post


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