Abstract

Workers at War: Labor in China’s Arsenals, 1937-1953

This book focuses on the lives, struggles, and contrasting perspectives of the 60,000 workers, military administrators, and technical staff employed in the largest, most strategic industry of the Nationalist government, the armaments industry based in the wartime capital, Chongqing. The author argues that China's arsenal workers participated in three interlocked conflicts between 1937 and 1953: a war of national liberation, a civil war, and a class war.The work adds to the scholarship on the Chinese revolution, which has previously focused primarily on rural China, showing how workers’ alienation from the military officers directing the arsenals eroded the legitimacy of the Nationalist regime and how the Communists mobilized working-class support in Chongqing. Moreover, in emphasizing the urban, working-class, and nationalist components of the 1949 revolution, the author demonstrates the multiple sources of workers’ identities and thus challenges previous studies that have exclusively stressed workers’ particularistic or regional identities.