HOLDING THE LINE by Barbara Kingsolver


Women In The Great Arizona Mine Strike Of 1983 (ilr Press Books)
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Acclaimed fiction-writer Kingsolver (The Bean Trees, 1987); Homeland and Other Stories, p. 572) worked as a journalist covering the strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation (June 1983 to about December 1985) that shook the economic and social order in several isolated Arizona towns. Her partisan account focuses on how women--as miners, but more often as members of the Women's Auxiliary--emerged to play a major role both in the conflict and in grass-roots labor organization. There's much interesting material here about the past role of women and MexicanAmericans in the labor movement, some shockers about union-busting, and thoughtprovoking material about the strike's uneasy conclusion: workers losing their jobs, mining operations closing, the increasingly radicalized women who eventually defied not just the company but the male leadership of the union emerging with a personal sense of empowerment. But the book is not as successful in one of its stated goals: presenting the human drama, Kingsolver relies heavily on interviews; the quotes go on too long; the women often tell similar stories and their personalities rarely emerge. A better read would be Kingsolver's own short story "Why I Am a Danger to the Public" (from Homeland), which needs fewer than 20 pages to present a vivid fictionalized version, including violent hostility between striking and scab families; the arrival of heavily armed State Police; evictions from company housing, etc. Provocative but limited: the makings of a few excellent magazine articles fall short as a book.
Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1989
ISBN: 0801483891
Page count: 252pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1989


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