BISBEE '17 by Robert Houston


Email this review


A strong, conscientious, novelized account of the particular Waterloo faced by the I.W.W.--the Wobblies--at Bisbee, Arizona, in 1917. Seeking to shut down the war effort and thus paralyze industrial capitalism, the Wobblies need only to cripple the Phelps-Dodge copper mines by a general strike; that alone will make a wide band of the West's mining interests inoperable. Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, all arrive in the little gulch-town to throw their charismatic weights around. Bo Whiteley, Gurley Flynn's first husband and chief local Wobblie leader, is the tactician. But the mine owners have the guns and the sheriff in their pocket; action escalates from harassment to scattered bombings, and then finally a mass kidnapping, vigilante-style, of all the Wobblies--which effectively puts the movement out of business forever. Houston has researched time, locale, and personalities expertly; and he knows how to pace his story. Details may, as often happens in such historical recreations, tend to clot a touch too thickly here and there. But most of Houston's work here is as vivid as an old, posed, group portrait.

Pub Date: April 16th, 1979
ISBN: 0816519390
Publisher: Pantheon