This is the first of my labor history reads for Labor Day, and even though it's a short book I'm already learning a lot from it. What I've found most interesting so far is Livesay's explanation of the role Ferdinand Laurrell played in Gompers' intellectual development. I didn't know that Gompers, the orthodox/conservative labor leader, had flirted with socialism. Laurrell was the reason why I didn't know this, as he steered Gompers away from that early on. It shed some light on a question that I've long grappled with: what makes one person a zealous ideologue and another a cautious pragmatist? Are the differences about how people are "wired" from the start or is it about a key point in their lives when they adopt the blinders of belief or season everything with skepticism? Livesay doesn't address, let alone answer, this for me, but his description of Gompers's course does give me further food for thought.