A book that doesn't get a lot of talk these days is Herbert H. Stroup's 1945 study "The Jehovah's Witnesses." Which is too bad, because in the field of JW studies it pretty much stands on its own as a serious, scholarly look at the Rutherford era of the movement -- one written with no theological or doctrinal axes to grind, but rather with the impartial eye of a professional sociologist.
Stroup received no cooperation whatever from Brooklyn in writing this book, but he spent a great deal of time among rank-and-file Witnesses of the late 1930s and early 1940s, attending their meetings, joining them in field service, and eating at their homes, and what emerges is a picture of an overwhelmingly working-class movement which overlapped in its hopes and ultimate goals the ambitions of other radical social movements of the 1930s. The Witnesses were not marching in labor parades or participating in sit-down strikes or engaging in other forms of street-level radicalism, but Stroup finds that, in their individual views on the social and economic structures of the time, they were largely in harmony with those who were, even in spite of their religion's supposed disavowal of politics, and he sees them as much as a political movement in that sense as a religious one. There's a reason why reading "Consolation" from the late 1930s often feels like reading a radical political magazine more than any kind of a religious one
This is a perspective few other authors have addressed in their studies of the Witnesses -- especially authors whose purpose in writing is largely polemical rather than sociological. It also helps to put into perspective exactly what happened to the movement during the Knorr era -- it wasn't just a shift in surface style or in teaching methods, it was an overt and very specific political shift, from the radicalism of the Rutherford era to an extremely bourgeois conservatism that went to great lengths to embrace aspects of the socio-politcal system that it claimed to oppose. Reading Stroup's depiction of the pre-1945 movement really draws that fact into sharp focus, and it makes understanding what happened to the Society in later years that much more obvious.
This is a book well worth reading, and I hope that those who haven't will seek it out. It's a fascinating text.