Steve Nelson, American Radical

Steve Nelson, James R Barrett, Rob Ruck

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


As the immigrant teenage son of a Croatian miller, Steve Nelson arrived in the United States after World War I and entered a world of chronic unemployment, low wages, dangerous work, and discrimination. Following the path taken by many fellow immigrant workers, he joined the Communist Party. He became a full-time organizer and ultimately a major leader, only to resign in 1957 after unsuccessful attempts to democratize the American party.

This remarkable oral biography, recounted in collaboration with two historians, describes day-to-day life in the party and traces Nelson's career from his beginnings in the Pennsylvania coalfields to his secret work as party courier in the Far East; form the battlefields of Civil War Spain to the jails of Cold War Pittsburgh; and from a small group of Communist autoworkers in Detroit to the upper reaches of a party leadership in New York. It is the frank and analytical account of a leading American working-class activist.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationPittsburgh
PublisherUniversity of Pittsburgh Press
Number of pages475
ISBN (Print)9780822954712, 9780822934417
StatePublished - 1981


  • 20th century
  • United States
  • Radicalism
  • Biography
  • Communists
  • Nelson, Steve
  • History


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