Taylor Brown, 1982-

Book - 2024

"A historical drama based on the Battle of Blair Mountain, pitting a multi-ethnic army of 10,000 coal miners against mine owners, state militia, and the United States government in the largest labor uprising in American history. Rednecks is a tour de force, big canvas historical novel that dramatizes the 1920 to 1921 events of the West Virginia Mine Wars-from the Matewan Massacre through the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed conflict on American soil since the Civil War, when some one million rounds were fired, bombs were dropped on Appalachia, and the term "redneck" would come to have an unexpected origin story. Brimming with the high stakes drama of America's buried history, Rednecks tells a powerful story of... rebellion against oppression. In a land where the coal companies use violence and intimidation to keep miners from organizing, "Doc Moo" Muhanna, a Lebanese-American doctor (inspired by the author's own great-grandfather), toils amid the blood and injustice of the mining camps. When Frank Hugham, a Black World War One veteran and coal miner, takes dramatic steps to lead a miners' revolt with a band of fellow veterans, Doc Moo risks his life and career to treat sick and wounded miners, while Frank's grandmother, Beulah, fights her own battle to save her home and grandson. Real-life historical figures burn bright among the hills: the fiery Mother Jones, an Irish-born labor organizer once known as "The Most Dangerous Woman in America," struggles to maintain the ear of the miners ("her boys") amid the tide of rebellion, while the sharp-shooting police chief "Smilin" Sid Hatfield dares to stand up to the "gun thugs" of the coal companies, becoming a folk hero of the mine wars. Award-winning novelist Taylor Brown brings to life one of the most compelling events in 20th century American history, reminding us of the hard-won origins of today's unions. Rednecks is a propulsive, character-driven tale that's both a century old and blisteringly contemporary: a story of unexpected friendship, heroism in the face of injustice, and the power of love and community against all odds"--

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Historical fiction
New York : St. Martin's Press 2024.
Main Author
Taylor Brown, 1982- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
310 pages ; 24 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

The 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain is a pivotal moment in American history. Part of the West Virginia Mine Wars, it's the largest labor uprising in the U.S., pitting some 10,000 miners against Big Coal, the mining companies' strikebreakers, and the National Guard. Brown (Pride of Eden, 2020) humanizes the events by introducing several indelible characters, including "Doc Moo" Muhanna, who is determined to uphold his Hippocratic Oath amidst the increasing bloodshed, and Big Frank Hugham, a Black miner who helps lead the labor efforts after his grandmother, Miss Beulah, is forced from her cabin by the mine owners. Brown imbues these individuals with the spirit and pathos of people who have been exploited for far too long. Other characters include the inspirational Sid Hatfield, descendant of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud, and union organizer Mother Jones, the "most dangerous woman in America." Brown dexterously illustrates the eternal dichotomy between capitalism and labor in this immersive novel about a united multiethnic group of miners who tied red bandanas around their necks as a symbol of solidarity.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

West Virginia coalminers stage a violent uprising in this sobering tale from Brown (The Wingwalkers). In May 1920, miners in Mingo County, W.Va., are evicted from their company-owned homes in retaliation for joining the United Mine Workers of America. Matewan police chief "Smilin'" Sid Hatfield, angered at the company's brazen extralegal operation, guns down the private detective in charge of the evictions. By June, the miners are on strike. Nearly a year later, tired of living hungry in a makeshift tent colony, the miners attack the state police, who are siding with the company, and its band of deputized civilians. When Sid is assassinated, heavily armed miners from all over the state assemble near Matewan, dubbing themselves "Rednecks" for the red bandannas they wear around their necks. The violence escalates until the U.S. Secretary of War sends in the Army to put down the rebellion. Interweaving multiple points of view, primarily those of local physician Domit Muhanna, labor orgaziner Mary Harris (the real-life Mother Jones), and Frank Hugham, a Black miner and veteran of the Great War, Brown skillfully examines workers' frustrations with large corporations and the politicians they pay off. Readers will find that this one hits hard. Agent: Julie Stevenson, Massie & McQuilkin Literary. (May)

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