Industry and Humanity was first published in 1918. In it William Lyon Mackenzie King, then a prominent public servant who had forged a respectable reputation among business leaders as an expert in labour affairs, discussed the process of national and industrial reconstruction then about to begin. The book reviewed several momentous crises in North American labour-management relations, revealed the background to various important pieces of Canadian legislation in the field of social welfare, and provided a broad rationale for the establishment of a new programme of democracy in industry.
Industry and Humanity is not only a history of King's career as industrial relations expert and consultant for the Canadian government and several giant American corporations. It also contains illustrations and analogies from his urban industrial and educational experiences. He did settlement work, examined working conditions and trade unionism in his graduate studies at university, and pioneered in the federal department of labour in examining at close hand some of the most undesirable effects of industrialization.
The portions of the book which were derived from King's experiences in investigation and arbitration work present an invaluable picture of deplorable working conditions and wasting away of human lives. King's analysis of strikes - their causes and social consequences - is the book's central theme and is an accurate and telling assessment of the effects of social strife on the well-being of the community. Moreover, King put flesh on the dry statistics of industrial accidents and illnesses and the testimony of countless inquiries and royal commissions with vivid descriptions of the dehumanizing effects of the modern factory system.