"Meticulously researched, Chester's study has a narrow focus and will be of greatest interest to labor historians. Profiles, notes, and a bibliographic essay at the end of the book will assist scholars of the labor movement. However, the book's balanced judgments, indicting illegal and unethical government and corporate actions as well as ill-advised decisions by IWW leaders, will also inform all readers interested in social protest movements. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, and faculty."
"Using official Justice Department and Military Intelligence files as well as IWW records that had been unavailable to previous scholars of the IWW, owing to federal government document classification policies, Eric Chester proves beyond doubt that President Woodrow Wilson and his Justice Department—assisted by the U.S. military and its intelligence services—worked assiduously to put the IWW out of business. Chester's description of the anti-subversive crusade by federal authorities during World War I and their linking of domestic radicals with violence or terrorism proves yet again how government uses its legal authority to crush and punish dissenters and mavericks. The counter-subversive tactics that are today part of our 'war on terror' as well as the policies implemented by the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA are, as Chester shows, practices with a long history in the U.S."
"Eric Chester's important book establishes that the IWW's revolutionary vision was embraced by large numbers of American workers, and that the union was building a strong presence in vital industries. The government's brutal campaign of repression was driven by its deep fear of working-class rebellion and by the employers' determination to crush the union while they still could."
"This deeply researched study offers an incisive analysis of the success of the IWW in organizing during World War I and of the relentless campaign of corporate and federal authorities to destroy it. Chester has established a new watermark for historical understanding of the IWW."
"Based on prodigious research in primary and secondary sources, Eric Chester has provided a much-needed new look at the Wobblies. He smartly constructs a context in time (the Wobblies' second decade) and space (key sites of struggle, such as Butte, Bisbee, and Seattle) in order to 'go beneath the surface mythology' and probe 'the IWW as it really was.' His probing reveals an organization which, at the height of its militancy and energy, was wracked by internal conflicts over ideology, strategy, and tactics; and under sustained attack from employers and the government, who proved to be ruthless, powerful opponents. Chester demonstrates that, at critical moments, these opponents knew how to take advantage of the Wobblies' internal conflicts. And they did, with disastrous consequences for the IWW. For today's activists who feel drawn to this labor organization, certainly an audience Chester has in mind, The Wobblies in their Heyday offers a cautionary tale, even as it recounts heroic, principled struggles. For scholars, this book offers a carefully composed and richly detailed account that challenges the dominant narratives provided by older studies."
"Eric Chester's illuminating book on the Industrial Workers of the Worlds cuts through the mythology on the left and right to portray the IWW as a powerful, radical trade union movement dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism. Chester demonstrates both the impressive successes of the IWW's organization of miners during World War I and the extraordinary repression unleashed by the liberal Wilson Administration that ultimately decimated the IWW. This book should be read by those who wish to understand how radical movements in the United States can flourish and how such movements need to be defended by all who are dedicated to protecting the full use of our civil liberties."
"Eric Chester's book gives us a much-needed reminder of the government-backed destruction of the most radical working-class organization in U.S. history—an organization whose class-wide organizing across lines of occupation, race, and gender is a potent perspective for the renewed class struggle today."