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THE BATTLE OF BLAIR MOUNTAIN

THE STORY OF AMERICA’S LARGEST LABOR UPRISING

A mesmerizing, rarely mentioned piece of labor history, crackingly told. (10 b&w photographs, not seen)

A stunning re-creation of the great West Virginia uprising of 1921, when some 10,000 armed miners confronted coal operators and their hired guns in an attempt to unionize.

After WWI, President Wilson’s New Freedom was out, as were idealism, the rights of labor, and dissent. “The conservative trend was also marked by an enhanced reverence for free enterprise, its leaders and all their works, an attitude which served to reinforce the resistance of these worthies to the demands of labor,” writes former political correspondent Shogan (War Without End, 2002, etc.; Government/Johns Hopkins), sounding more like Big Bill Haywood than the free-thinking historian he mostly proves to be in these impassioned pages. Inflation was wrecking the old wage structure; demand was falling in the postwar economy. The United Mine Workers (UMW) had adopted the new work-within-the system unionism of Samuel Gompers, but in West Virginia, a more radical faction also had a change in the political landscape on their minds. It was obvious, Shogan writes, that all the West Virginia coal mines had to be unionized, or the nonunion mines would offset the production stoppages of the striking mines, giving the union a case of the dwindles. Wilson's swing to the right, the difficulties of unionizing the disparate West Virginia working classes, the role of federal troops, ancient enmities, and conspicuous actors like Sid Hatfield (yes, of those Hatfields), who turned a blood feud into union resistance, are among the volatile ingredients Shogan blends into a zesty narrative stew. He suggests that America’s “promise of opportunity, individual freedom and fairness under the law” led the miners to lay down their arms, but leaves open the possibility that they may have simply had a good sense of bad timing. Indeed, the time would never be right in West Virginia for social justice, though unions prompted employers to throw the populace a few economic sops.

A mesmerizing, rarely mentioned piece of labor history, crackingly told. (10 b&w photographs, not seen)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8133-4096-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2004

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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