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Steven Attewell, RIP

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It is with a very heavy heart that I let the LGM community know about the death of our contributor and my fellow labor historian Steven Attewell. He was pretty open about the cancer that cost him a leg several years ago and it returned and, well, that goes as it goes. We will have a fuller discussion soon as we work up an official memorial. Allow me to mention his superb book People Must Live by Work: Direct Job Creation in America, from FDR to Reagan, which is perhaps our best book on the history and politics around direct employment programs. Steve and I also published together, a very long encyclopedia article for The American Middle Class: An Economic Encyclopedia of Progress and Poverty on “The Origins of the Middle Class.” Kinda a key topic for such an encyclopedia. Steve did most of the work, because I didn’t want to write this period but the editors really wanted me to and I asked if I could have a co-writer and I knew Steve needed a shot in the arm about his career. So it kind of worked out for everyone and it was a very good article, I thought.

Of course many of you loved him for his work on fantasy literature that he shared here, as well as his more occasional economic policy blogging. But I knew him personally. He was a generous, funny man who also was one of the most egregious violators of conference presentation time limits I ever knew, which always made me laugh because was so indifferent to the whole thing. He had trouble on the academic job market, as has almost every historian in the last decade, but that says nothing as to the tremendous quality of his work. This is just an unfair loss to the world. As for me, this is the third friend I’ve lost in the last six months, which I guess is what starts happening at this age.

He was also a man who knew how to wear a hat.

And if you really want to be depressed, you can watch SEK and Steve talk about Game of Thrones, which is still up on YouTube.

At the very least, I can dedicate my Organization of American Historians panel tomorrow to Steve and let the labor historian community know about this.

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