We tend to think that Yiddish-speaking socialists brought their politics with them when they emigrated to the United States at the turn of the last century. But in A Fire in Their Hearts, Tony Michels argues we’re wrong. The Yiddish worker’s movement that came into being on the Lower East Side was a distinctly American phenomenon, argues Michels, a history professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. And its impact lasted well into the 20th century, even if it’s infrequently mentioned in today’s history books.

Illustration: N. Kozlovsky, “Russian Jewish Workers on a Tenement Rooftop,” from A Fire in Their Hearts, courtesy Workmen’s Circle.