A Most Promising Weed examines the work experience, living conditions, and social relations of thousands of African men, women, and children on European-owned tobacco farms in colonial Zimbabwe from 1890 to 1945. Steven C. Rubert provides evidence that Africans were not passive in their responses to the penetration of European capitalism into Zimbabwe but, on the contrary, helped to shape both the work and living conditions they encountered as they entered wage employment.
Beginning with a brief history of tobacco growing in Zimbabwe, this study focuses on the organization of workers' compounds and on the paid and unpaid labor performed by both women and children on those farms.
Patricia A. Cooper charts the course of competition, conflict, and camaraderie among American cigar makers during the two decades that preceded mechanization of their work. In the process, she reconstructs the work culture, traditions, and daily lives of the male cigar makers who were members of the Cigar Makers' International Union of America (CMIU) and of the nonunion women who made cigars under a division of labor called the "team system." But Cooper not only examines the work lives of these men and women, she also analyzes their relationship to each other and to their employers during these critical years of the industry's transition from hand craft to mass production.