IMG_5042 - Version 8Jefferson Cowie recently joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University, where he moved after teaching at Cornell University for eighteen years. At Vanderbilt, he holds the James G. Stahlman Chair in American History. His work in social and political history focuses on how class, inequality, and labor  shape American politics and culture.

The Nation magazine described Jefferson Cowie as “one of our most commanding interpreters of recent American experience.” His most recent book, Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class, draws together labor, politics, and popular culture into a vibrant narrative about the decline of class in American political culture. It received a number of “best book” awards, including two of the profession’s most prestigious: the 2011 Francis Parkman Prize for the Best Book in American History and the Merle Curti Award for the Best Book in Social and Intellectual History.

Read the full Bio

What critics are saying:

Frederico Romero, Journal of American HistoryFrederico Romero, Journal of American History
It does not take long to recognize an excellent book, and this is one. With an innovative and successful mix of labor and business history, economic geography, and gender and community studies, Jefferson Cowie writes a complex story of capital migration, class formation, and social change.”
-Frederico Romero, Journal of American History
Michael Kazin, Georgetown UniversityMichael Kazin, Georgetown University
A conceptually rich and deeply humane book. Jefferson Cowie narrates how industrial workers in two nations and four different communities coped with one company’s relentless search for cheap and pliable labor. He is a rare historian who illuminated the future by explaining a vital part of the past.”
-Michael Kazin, Georgetown University
Rick Perlstein, The NationRick Perlstein, The Nation fresh, fertile and real that the only thing it resembles is itself...You just have to read it. It establishes its author as one of our most commanding interpreters of recent American experience....Cowie's accomplishment is to convey what this epic cheat felt like from the inside."
-Rick Perlstein, The Nation
Steven Colatrella, New PoliticsSteven Colatrella, New Politics
As a work of history, [Stayin’ Alive] might be the most groundbreaking and original national history of a working class since E.P. Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class....this book is required reading for anyone looking to revive working class hopes and alternatives to America’s disastrous love story with capitalism."
-Steven Colatrella, New Politics
Joan Walsh, Salon.comJoan Walsh,
If you want to understand how we got here -- how the Democrats' New Deal coalition shattered in the 1970s, and why progressives are still picking the shrapnel out of their political hides -- you must read Jefferson Cowie's Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class...." “one of the best books of 2010."
-Joan Walsh,