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Taylor Brown

Forfatter af Fallen Land: A Novel

7+ Værker 646 Medlemmer 61 Anmeldelser 2 Favorited

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Image credit: Photo credit: Benjamin Galland

Værker af Taylor Brown

Fallen Land: A Novel (2016) 201 eksemplarer, 21 anmeldelser
Gods of Howl Mountain (2018) 184 eksemplarer, 19 anmeldelser
The River of Kings (2017) 97 eksemplarer, 6 anmeldelser
Pride of Eden (2020) 59 eksemplarer, 3 anmeldelser
Rednecks: A Novel (2024) 53 eksemplarer, 9 anmeldelser
Wingwalkers: A Novel (2022) 36 eksemplarer, 3 anmeldelser
In the Season of Blood and Gold (2014) 16 eksemplarer

Associated Works

The bitter southerner reader. Vol. 5 (2021) — Bidragyder — 3 eksemplarer

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Brown brings alive a long-forgotten instance of class war in America in a blow-by-blow account of the Blair Mountain coal miners strike in West Virginia in response to the massacre of miners and eviction of their families in the town of Matewan. For the next year, 10,000 miners, of varying age and ethnicity, many of them Great War veterans, many of them Black descendants of slaves, all of them sorely exploited by King Coal and its government minions, fought back against subsistence wages, company housing, company stores, union-breaking and outright starvation. He ends his story with the President’s ultimatum that the strikers must return to work or face federal troops, including the new Air Force ready to bomb its own citizens in the name of profit. They had little choice, having lost so many of their brothers, and now facing certain annihilation. The inimitable Mother Jones is shown in all her firebrand glory, as are many other real historical characters.

Brown provides a select bibliography of the classic published works and a few recent studies that suggest the Matewan story is once again drawing scholarly attention. His explanation of how he immersed himself in the local archives and newspapers of the time shows the depth of his research. I’m surprised he doesn’t mention the award-winning (though box office flop) John Sayles film Matewan; it often came to mind as I read this riveting novel. The only reason it’s not a full five stars for me is that I would like to have seen more of the day-to-day lives and sustaining relationships of the miners, who themselves believed they were fighting for their families and each other as much as for their fundamental rights as workers. Most of the attention is on the actual fighting, and how it was carried out, in savage fashion, on both sides. Whether you know the story or not, this is an excellent presentation that powerfully entwines historical fact and empathetic reimagining.
… (mere)
CynCom | 8 andre anmeldelser | Jun 10, 2024 |
During 1920 to 1921 in the hills of West Virginia, striking mine workers and company men faced off against one another in a forgotten war. Over one million bullets were fired, bombs were dropped, and men died in droves. This book singles out a handful of characters including Doc Moo a Lebanese-American, Frank Hugham, a black miner and Smilin Sid Hatfield, the town’s sheriff.

This was a well written and engaging book - I had a hard time putting it down! I was amazed that this battle was fought on American soil, but is not mentioned in the history books. I am also fascinated by the history of labor relations in the US and how workers struggled and fought for their rights. Overall, highly recommended!… (mere)
JanaRose1 | 8 andre anmeldelser | Jun 5, 2024 |
I’ve been a fan of Taylor Brown’s books ever since I read his first best-seller, Fallen, shortly after it was published in 2016. Even though I have read every book he has written since then (five in all) it has remained my favorite, until now. With las month’s release of , a fictionalized account of the largest armed uprising since the American Civil War, Brown has cemented himself as one of the leading authors of historical fiction to come out of the American South since Shelby Foote.

West Virginia’s Battle of Blair Mountain is also the largest and deadliest labor uprising in United States history, in which as many as 10 thousand striking coal miners fought against state police, local militias and private detectives hired by the mine owners. Although the miners held a vast advantage in numbers, the mines’ owners employed surplus gatling guns and airplanes which dropped bombs and poison gas on the strikers’ positions.* The strike finally ended when the president ordered U. S. Troops into the area to quell the insurrection. As many of the miners had served in the military during the Great War, they didn’t want to fire on the soldiers and most chose to surrender rather than do so. By its end, more than 100 people on both sides were killed, mostly miners.

Brown did an excellent job of breathing life into the actual historical characters such as Mary Mother Jones, UMW president Bill Blizzard, Logan County Sheriff Don Chafin, and Smilin’ Sid Hatfield (yes, one of those Hatfields), but his portrayal of his more-or-less fictional characters was magnificent. In most cases, he cobbled together bits and pieces of several actual participants into a single heroic entity such as that of ‘Big Frank Hugham’ who survived an attempted murder by Baldwin-Felts Detective and went on the become a leading figure in the battle. My favorite character, though, was Doctor Domit ‘Moo’ Muhanna, an immigrant doctor whose dedication to the Hippocratic Oath took him into the worst of the fighting to treat combatants on both sides. This character was based on Brown’s own grandfather, whose story bears striking similarities to his fictional counterpart.

Until Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Recovery Act in 1933, stories involving labor movements rarely had happy endings. Not only did the mine and factory owners control the money, the weapons and the politicians, they also controlled what the rest of us heard about such movements. Had we lived back then, we would not have been reading stories sympathetic to them or their cause. Brown portrays this brilliantly when he describes how censors handled a story that a reporter had risked his life to get.
“Cut this,” he said, setting the paper on the table, striking a sentence with his thumbnail, hard enough to leave a crease: Gaunt-faced women, barefooted and expressionless watched the troops pass. Some of them waved half-heartedly.
“No sob stuff for these Rednecks,” he said. He went on cutting and deleting, killing more lines, turning images into ghosts. People who once existed in the story were cut out. They disappeared between the lines, into the margins, like they’d never been.
Sparkes ground his teeth. He’d followed the American Expeditionary Force across Europe in the Great War, working on the bloody edge of the campaign, and never faced such a knife. The man before him seemed so sure of himself, so certain of his rightness. “No patriotic stuff from these people,” he said, cutting another line.
“You seem pretty cavalier about this, Major. You’re cutting awfully close with the United States Constitution right now, don’t you think?”
Bad Tony raised one eye at him. “All that time on the front lines, writing your stories, and you ain’t learned how it works yet. ’Tis the victor who writes the history—”
“And counts the dead.
Yes, I know the quote.”
Bottom line: I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If you are thinking about reading this, stop thinking and start reading.

* The book’s characters claimed that this was the first time that American’s had subjected other Americans to aerial bombardment in the United States, but this is incorrect. Three months previously, bombs were dropped on the Greenwood District during the Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma. It’s highly unlikely that anyone in West Virginia would have known that, though, so the author can be forgiven.

Quotations are cited from an advanced reading copy and may not be the same as appears in the final published edition. The review was based on an advanced reading copy obtained at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. While this does take any ‘not worth what I paid for it’ statements out of my review, it otherwise has no impact on the content of my review.

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star – The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
… (mere)
Unkletom | 8 andre anmeldelser | Jun 3, 2024 |
The West Virginia-Kentucky border has been home to volatile events from the Hatfields and McCoy Feud through coal Mining and the beginning of unions. This story is set during the later, with miners caught in the middle of a reckless job, violent union conflicts and poverty. Fraught with violence that rivals the Wild West, Rednecks delves into the lives of these characters and their plight for safe working and living conditions amidst racism and poverty-ism. Interesting and at times confounding, the plot moves through these events with heart wrenching detail and a need for triumph.
*I received an arc from the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review
… (mere)
KimMcReads | 8 andre anmeldelser | May 28, 2024 |



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