STAND LIKE MEN by James Sherburne


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Turmoil and corruption in the United Mine Workers Union is nothing new -- as this novel based on the Kentucky Coal War of 1931 all too clearly reminds us. Not only did the starving miners have to combat rising prices, falling wages, scabs, and law officers who could put the Mafia to shame -- but they fought each other both in and out of the UMW: in the shortlived but semi-heroic ""Rooshan"" commie National Miners' Union that tried to beat the depression in Harlan County when John Lewis' boys were too involved in jurisdictional disputes and sweetheart contracts to bother with their obstreperous rank and file. Unwillingly, but inevitably, miner Breck Hord becomes involved with the various unions -- first as reluctant member, then organizer when his older brother Claiborne is jailed for attacking ""company thugs"" -- more interested in food than rhetoric, in money than in power, disliking killing but knowing it's sometimes necessary. This is a sympathetic, moving book about the slow-acting but not slow-thinking people that made history while the glib, Eastern organizers just talked about it -- respectful in spirit and language to the men it justly honors.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1973
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin