The Labor Movement in Fiction

(August 20, 2002)

The last distribution list had books of a serious and informative nature about the American worker and the labor movement. Today, our list from Coordinator of Volunteers Deborah Stroup, has books of a lighter nature on the same subject. These books are just right to read while enjoying your Labor Day holiday.

To order any of these titles, contact the library by email, mail or phone. You may also request these titles online through our OPAC. Happy Reading!

The Desert of Wheat by Zane Grey.
BR 5499.
Kurt Dorn, half German, half American, is confronted at the beginning of World War 1 with a problem. He loves America and hates the German blood that is in him, while he has a father who is loyally German. Owner of a wheat ranch, he glories in the grain he can send to nourish American soldiers until a newly formed labor union ruins his harvest.

Dreamland by Kevin Baker.
RC 50727.
Tale of a young Eastern European stowaway who encounters love, jealousy, and betrayal in the squalid tenements of turn-of-the-century New York City. Set against the tumult of Tammany Hall politics and the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire which hastened labor reform. City of Fire Trilogy, Book 1. Series Code CFR. Some strong language.

In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck.
RC 49209, BR 12516.
Jim Nolan leads disgruntled migrant workers in a confrontation with California landowners during the depression. Conveys several levels of meaning about social forces and poverty in addition to its portrayal of labor strife. Some strong language and some violence.

Ellis Island by Fred M. Stewart.
RC 18696.
A sweeping saga tells the stories of five enterprising young immigrants who land at Ellis Island on the same boat in 1907. The tale takes its heroes and heroines to Tin Pan Alley, the farms and mines of Appalachia, the sumptuous homes and political halls of New York, and the violent world of early labor organizers. Strong language and some descriptions of sex.

Great Dream from Heaven by John Rolfe Gardiner.
BR 2730.
Gardiner tells the story of a greenhorn labor organizer revealing the time and culture of 1889 Tennessee life. Some explicit descriptions of sex.

Memories of Another Day by Harold Robbins.
RC 14559.
Saga of the American labor movement centers on Daniel Boone Huggins, "Big Dan," who rises from the rural poverty and hard times of the West Virginia hills to become a powerful labor leader. His career embraces violence, fierce ambition, lust, and a hunger for justice even when wealth, fame, and power become his. Strong language and explicit descriptions of sex.

A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett.
RC 40692.
It is 1766, and the lives of Mack McAsh and his twin sister, Esther, have always been centered around the Scottish coal mines. But Mack has learned that he can be free of the coal mines now that he is 21. He plans a daring escape, goes to London, and becomes part of the labor movement. But circumstances beyond his control find Mack shipped off to America and a new life. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.

So Many Partings by Cathy Cash Spellman.
RC 19613, BR 5485.
Follows the loves and fortunes of Tom Dalton, illegitimate son of an Anglo-Irish aristocrat and an Irish domestic, who leaves Ireland for New York in 1900. The estrangement between mother and son is the core of the plot that also chronicles labor struggles on the New York waterfront, the lives of Tom's three children, skirmishes between Irish gangs and the Mafia, and Tom's eventual regaining of his Irish legacy. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey.
RC 58184, BR 15536.
A complex novel of character blends past and present. A labor strike against old Henry Stamper's lumber empire intensifies the conflict between his two sons. Hank, a rough-hewn chip off the old block, is eventually provoked to fight his sensitive younger brother Lee, summoned from Yale to help out during the strike. Strong language.

Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina.
RC 26668.
Historical novel based on a 1921 incident in which mine workers threatened to overthrow counties in West Virginia, but were crushed by the United States Army. Four narrators personalize this confrontation: C.J. Marcum, mayor of Annadel; Rondal Lloyd, a fiercely independent young miner; Rosa Angelelli, a Sicilian immigrant; and Carrie Bishop, a feisty, proud farm girl who worked as a nurse in the coal camps. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex

Tobacco Sticks by William Elliott Hazelgrove.
RC 42733.
A Southern tale set in 1945, as the established order is beset by organized labor, new politics, and racial tension. In the poignant courtroom climax, a lonely man of conscience confronts bigotry and injustice.

The Valley of Decision by Marcia Davenport.
RC 12074.
From 1873 to Pearl Harbor, the novel follows the fortunes of a Pittsburgh family who owns a steel mill. Begins with the arrival of the Irish maid who becomes the mainstay of the family and describes the Irish and Slovak steel workers, labor problems at the mill, and the lives and loves of various members of the family.

Wabash by Robert Olen Butler.
RC 26517.
With his adored young daughter suddenly dead and his livelihood in jeopardy, Jeremy Cole turns away from his wife, Deborah, and toward the violence of labor agitation at the Wabash, Illinois, steel mill in the summer of 1932. Deborah seeks solace among her kinswomen, but returns to rally around Jeremy when serious trouble develops with the agitators. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.