Live Working or Die Fighting

How the Working Class Went Global

The stories in this book come to life through the voices of remarkable individuals: child laborers in Dickensian England, visionary women on Parisian barricades, gun-toting railway strikers in America’s Wild West, and beer-swilling German metalworkers who tried to stop World War I.

It is a story of urban slums, self-help cooperatives, choirs and brass bands, free love, and self-education by candlelight. And, as the author shows, in the developing industrial economies of the world, it is still with us. Live Working or Die Fighting celebrates a common history of defiance, idealism, and self-sacrifice, one as alive and active today as it was two hundred years ago. It is a unique and inspirational book.

About the author

Paul Mason is an award-winning journalist who reports regularly on labor rights and social justice stories as economics editor for BBC World News America and BBC Newsnight. In addition to Live Working or Die Fighting, which was shortlisted as a 2007 Guardian First Book Award, Mason is the author of Meltdown: The End of the Age of Greed (Verso Books).


Paul Mason speaks with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! about the ongoing globalization of an industrial working class and the struggles from China to the United States for workers' rights:

Mason speaks with Laura Flanders on GritTV on contemporary global unrest, from London to Cairo, the Midwestern U.S. & beyond:


"This is micro-historical writing at its best."—Walden Bello, author of Dilemmas of Domination

"Anger is present in the histories told here and so is hope. Mason's writing is never heavy-handed or pedantic. The book itself would make a wonderful history text for high school and undergraduate college students should it make it past the censors that control education. In the same manner, it is appropriate for union organizers and others truly interested in making workers' organizations more than agents of the capitalist economy. As for everyone else, perhaps its true intention is to inspire." Ron Jacobs,

"Brilliant."—Ken Loach

"Don't die stupid. If you haven’t read Mason’s book, you know nothing about how this planet works . . . breathtaking, fascinating, perceptive. . . . Damn, I wish I’d written this book."—Greg Palast, author of the New York Times bestseller Armed Madhouse

"Paul Mason is one of the best journalists covering the global economy today. His book, Live Working, Die Fighting: How the Working Class Went Global, is an essential resource for anyone concerned about the workers’ struggle against oppression and for liberation in the past, present and future." Paul Le Blanc