If American socialists in the Progressive Era had a central axiom, it was ‘Workers of the World, Read!’ Indeed, for turn-of-the-twentieth-century socialists, reading was a radical act. It engendered grass-roots political activism, subverted dominant values and, in their estimation, provided a viable means of securing a new moral order, in which human beings came before the almighty dollar. An 1895 article in the popular socialist newspaper, the Appeal to Reason, underscored what was at stake for the socialist movement: ‘Read the books on political economy that your masters do not want you to read. e truth will make you free – a condition you do not even know of.’1 e printed word, they believed, was ‘mental dynamite’, razing ignorance and opening the mind to the Cooperative Commonwealth.2