Jimmy Reid was a major presence in British public life in the 1970s and 1980s and remained a notable figure in Scotland until his death in 2010. Bill Knox and Alan McKinlay have written a fine biography of him. Born in 1932 in Govan, a shipbuilding district south of the River Clyde in Glasgow, Reid was a communist, trade unionist, skilled engineer, and remarkable rhetorician. Knox and McKinlay are well qualified as his biographers. Their lengthy scholarly partnership has focused on the workplace politics of Reid's tribe: skilled, male, Scottish engineering workers and trade unionists. Their research has enriched understanding, among various issues, of the “culture clash” between the expectations and practices of Scottish engineering workers and those of the dozens of US multinational firms that operated as major employers in Scotland from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Knox and McKinlay use this expertise to examine Reid within a sensitive...

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