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Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983

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Novelist Barbara Kingsolver began her writing career with Holding the Line. It is the story of how women's lives were transformed by an eighteen-month strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, the story is partly oral history and partly social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work t Novelist Barbara Kingsolver began her writing career with Holding the Line. It is the story of how women's lives were transformed by an eighteen-month strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, the story is partly oral history and partly social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work together as a community. For this new edition, Kingsolver has revised the first chapter and written a new introduction, which explains the book's particular importance. "Holding the Line was a watershed event for me because it taught me to pay attention: to know the place where I lived. Since then I've written other books, most of them set in the vine-scented, dusty climate of Southwestern class struggle.... My hope for you, as a person now holding this book, is that the reading will bring you some of what the writing brought to me. Whether or not you can claim any interest in a gritty little town smack in the middle of nowhere that hosted a long-ago mine strike, I hope in the end you will care about its courage and sagacity."


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Novelist Barbara Kingsolver began her writing career with Holding the Line. It is the story of how women's lives were transformed by an eighteen-month strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, the story is partly oral history and partly social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work t Novelist Barbara Kingsolver began her writing career with Holding the Line. It is the story of how women's lives were transformed by an eighteen-month strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, the story is partly oral history and partly social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work together as a community. For this new edition, Kingsolver has revised the first chapter and written a new introduction, which explains the book's particular importance. "Holding the Line was a watershed event for me because it taught me to pay attention: to know the place where I lived. Since then I've written other books, most of them set in the vine-scented, dusty climate of Southwestern class struggle.... My hope for you, as a person now holding this book, is that the reading will bring you some of what the writing brought to me. Whether or not you can claim any interest in a gritty little town smack in the middle of nowhere that hosted a long-ago mine strike, I hope in the end you will care about its courage and sagacity."

30 review for Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    A very good first book but then she had a great topic. This is very timely and holds up well. The last couple chapters are as true today as 1987 when it went to press. The government and big business are not going to help the little working person out of the goodness of their heart. It's all about money. We have to not believe what we see on TV or the newspapers. Innocent people get arrested all the time and we think, well they must have done something wrong or they wouldn't have been arrested.. A very good first book but then she had a great topic. This is very timely and holds up well. The last couple chapters are as true today as 1987 when it went to press. The government and big business are not going to help the little working person out of the goodness of their heart. It's all about money. We have to not believe what we see on TV or the newspapers. Innocent people get arrested all the time and we think, well they must have done something wrong or they wouldn't have been arrested...........the public is manipulated all the time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Higginbotham

    The book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 by Barbara Kingsolver, has been on my shelf for years. Written in 1989, Kingsolver documents the strike in a few small mining towns in Arizona as people work to keep their unions in the face of Phelps Dodge. I’ve read some of the important novels Kingsolver has written since she wrote this journalistic treatment of a critical movement in labor history. Kingsolver focuses on the women, who really do hold the line. These ru The book, Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983 by Barbara Kingsolver, has been on my shelf for years. Written in 1989, Kingsolver documents the strike in a few small mining towns in Arizona as people work to keep their unions in the face of Phelps Dodge. I’ve read some of the important novels Kingsolver has written since she wrote this journalistic treatment of a critical movement in labor history. Kingsolver focuses on the women, who really do hold the line. These rural women come from mixed background: Mexican, tribal people and Anglos. They were mostly housewives, but some were workers including in the copper mines. Their stories are amazing, but we see the reality of rural life—small town, few distractions, and few institutions that can promote mobility. As the women take an active role in maintain the picket lines, it transforms family life—men have to learn to cook and wash dishes. The different roles in the strike—scab or picket walker—create new tensions in family and long terms friendships. Women who support the strike begin to define themselves in new ways and learn as they go along not to trust the government, the media and politicians as they had in the past. As the press lies about their own cause and motivations, they question how they accepted statements like people get arrested because they did wrong and that the press is always right. Their actions deepen their connections with each other, as they go out to bars to talk and drink. I think they never anticipated the closeness they feel as comrades. Such behavior would have been scandalous before their many transformations. As people outside their community learns about the efforts of Phelps Dodge to hire new workers and crush the union, the women find support in places they did not think possible. Some are pushed into new roles as they speak for their community. This was an era when women were not key actors in unions, so it was a challenge, but they did find much support in among the rank and file. They are able to raise money and win support from other workers. Kingsolver captures this moment when isolated rural women learn to rethink their own identities and shape new aspirations for their own children, so who were active on the picket line. Glad I read this book and it did fill in some history for me. The 1980s was a time of many transformations, so it nice to see how participation in union actions opened new doors for many of these women. Some divorces and separations followed, but many stayed with spouses, but on different terms. Yet, as women they all learned. In the end the strike ended in “defeat,” but really a victory as the participants held on to their rights and many were compensated for the injustices they faced. Yet, they learned through struggle and have much to teach the next generation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I'm not sure why someone would read Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mining Strike of 1983 today unless he or she was a student of Arizona mining history or was trying to understand how novelist Barbara Kingsolver got to where she is today. Published in 1989, Holding the Line is the story of how miners' wives in two small Arizona towns took up the mantle of their laborer husbands -- a bit like the soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution -- and held an 18-month picket line for a union co I'm not sure why someone would read Holding the Line: Women in the Great Arizona Mining Strike of 1983 today unless he or she was a student of Arizona mining history or was trying to understand how novelist Barbara Kingsolver got to where she is today. Published in 1989, Holding the Line is the story of how miners' wives in two small Arizona towns took up the mantle of their laborer husbands -- a bit like the soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution -- and held an 18-month picket line for a union contract that never materialized. It is Kingsolver's first full-length book -- although her novel The Bean Trees came out first. It neatly demonstrates her transition from journalist to novelist. Kingsolver follows the 18-month timeline of the strike as a storyteller, always through the eye-witness accounts of the women who lived it. This is verbatim recall: energetic, colorful, often unlettered and angry. Boiled down from hundreds of tape recordings, the lengthy quotes are sometimes monotonous, sometimes repetitive. Yet in Kingsolver's obedience to the women's voices, the reader can see the author's development as a champion of the under-served and under-recognized. There is power in moral outrage. Kingsolver was a 28-year-old part-time science writer for the University of Arizona who was supplementing her income as a freelance journalist when she got an assignment to cover the copper mining strikes against the New York-based Phelps Dodge Corporation. Union contracts at the mines in Ajo and Morenci, Silver City, NM and the smelter in Douglas were up for negotiation. What started as a newspaper assignment for Kingsolver developed into a book. She returned again and again to record the women's first-person accounts of the strike as it progressed. Ostensibly, the organization of the book is chronological, but as the subject matter is seen through the women's eyes and it is their concerns that dominate the storytelling. Negotiations over a contract broke down in June 1983 and miners went out on strike. Phelps Dodge began hiring strike breakers almost immediately. In August of the first summer the company got an injunction banning strikers from assembling at the plants' gates. Their wives then took over the picket lines. Their participation brought in thousands of supporters. It was their Miners Women's Auxiliary that set up a free clinic, food pantry and rallied national and international union support. Their publicity brought in Cesar Chavez, head of the United Farm Workers Union and Ed Asner, head of the Screen Actors Guild to town and a $10,000 contribution from a November 1983 Bruce Springsteen concert in Phoenix to help fund the strikers' free clinic. The women leaders went on nationwide speaking tours promoting the union and the strike. Before the strike was over -- eighteen months after it started -- the conflict had cost the state of Arizona $1.5 million in Department of Public Safety (DPS) charges, not counting the state's purchase of an airplane dedicated to maintaining order at strike sites . It is amazing what those in power will do to keep it. Phelps Dodge reported losing $20 million for the second quarter of 1984. The company shut down part of the Ajo mine, laying off 450 workers. In Kingsolver's account, the power brokers -- the state, the legitimate press, even the national union overseers -- either lined up behind the company or had turned a deaf ear to the 13 local unions who supported the strike. Her extensive bibliography at the end of the book shows a wide variety of sources that went into her background for the book. Not a lot of it gets into Holding the Line in a palatable way. What does come across is that this is basically the story of brown people: The women who are quoted have mostly Spanish surnames. A mother who was always in the home, goes off to hold the line, but not before instructing her husband on how to put their daughter's hair in a ponytail. When another is yelled at by a "scab" to go back to Mexico, she tells him: "We were always here." I had a special interest to uncovering this piece of Arizona history, having visited a few of the former mining and ghost towns that dot the southern part of the state. For awhile, my husband was on strike as coal miner when he lived in Utah. Together, since moving here, we have visited Ajo, Bisbee and Vulture City. Even living here in Phoenix, we see signs of the city's mining history, on our own North Mountain, and along Dreamy Draw, which got its name for the route mercury miners took back and forth from mine to boarding house. I have never been much of a Barbara Kingsolver fan. The Poisonwood Bible, which I read, and a NPR interview I heard, in which she touted "living on the land," seemed morally self-righteous. Perhaps I have sold Kingsolver short. I should give her another try. In addition to her writing and very conscious (and well reported) lifestyle choices, she funds the biannual Bellwether Prize ($25,000) to honor unpublished works that support "positive social change." This is not a bad thing. Though I saw confusion in how she chose to organize Holding the Line. I appreciate the author's creativity in wedding art to morality. In the meantime, I have put Jonathan D. Rosenblum's Copper Crucible: How the Arizona Miners' Strike of 1983 Recast Labor-Management Relations in America on my reading list. It promises to be a more satisfying piece of historical journalism.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    In 1983 the unions went on strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Mine. I found the description of the strike activities fairly confusing. I nearly stopped reading the book, but am glad I persevered. It is only externally about the strike. Kingsolver stresses several aspects of the strike that really have little to do with the unions or with the actual strike conditions. First, she provides a wonderful description of life in the small,l mining towns, often towns that were totally company towns. In 1983 the unions went on strike against the Phelps Dodge Copper Mine. I found the description of the strike activities fairly confusing. I nearly stopped reading the book, but am glad I persevered. It is only externally about the strike. Kingsolver stresses several aspects of the strike that really have little to do with the unions or with the actual strike conditions. First, she provides a wonderful description of life in the small,l mining towns, often towns that were totally company towns. Second, she stresses the importance of the Mexican American culture of most of the miners and workers, and the racial aspect of the Mining Company, the police and the politicians that are involved. And, third, she is most interested in writing about the effect of the strike on the women of the towns – mostly Mexican American women who, for the most part, had traditional female roles (It is confusing that she begins by describing the women who became mine workers). The strike destroys the economy of the towns – there is no other work within 50 to 100 miles. The strike totally changes the way most of the women view themselves and their future. I don’t think the strike had much effect on the racism toward Mexican Americans. This book was not what I expected. It is nonfiction, based on an oral history, somewhat journalistic approach, and apparently Kingsolver’s first book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Rankin

    Interesting account of how women "held the line" in a miner's strike in Morenci, Arizona against Phelps Dodge. Worrisome how the laws that are there to protect us were totally ignored in this strike. It truly sounded like something that would have happened back in the late 1800's to early 1900's, not now. Also interesting was the growth and education of these women who were the backbone of this strike.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I could not put this book down. There is so much unseen and unheard in my Arizona. This is an essential book for anyone who lives in the Southwest. The history is at the same time depressing and filled with a sense of possibility and community. Kingsolver does show a less developed sense of herself as a writer but I think this book served as a way for her to find her voice, and an important voice it is.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    Riveting story of the role of the women in a small town in Arizona when their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons go on strike.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alina Borger

    This book, aside from being a riveting story, helped me to articulate why supporting the union is an important part of my professional life.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This book was chosen by my book club-our theme was books by Barbara Kingsolver and this one attracted us because it was her first and it was Arizona history. This is a nonfiction recounting of the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983. Once again, I feel ignorant of current events of my own lifetime-this occurred shortly after Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers, an event which was very well publicized, however this incident involved a labor strike at several copper mines in Southern Arizon This book was chosen by my book club-our theme was books by Barbara Kingsolver and this one attracted us because it was her first and it was Arizona history. This is a nonfiction recounting of the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983. Once again, I feel ignorant of current events of my own lifetime-this occurred shortly after Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers, an event which was very well publicized, however this incident involved a labor strike at several copper mines in Southern Arizona. The labor force was largely Hispanic and Native American. The corporation that owned the mines, Phelps Dodge, also owned the housing in which the workers lived, the local hospital and the store. Think 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford! The company had only recently hired women to work in the mines and when the strike began these women and the Women’s Auxiliary became passionate and increasingly effective activists for the cause of workers rights and resistance against the replacement workers (scabs!). This book is an oral history and it is fascinating to track the growth of these women as they become empowered and discover their strength in community involvement. There are multiple injustices and heartbreaks along the way and the eventual outcome is the failure of the company due to its stubborn refusal to negotiate in good faith. The company works with local, state and national governments to break the strike and the strikers. This is an inspiring story of the unexpected power of community. It also feels all too timely, 35 years later, as a story of racism, sexism and the unjust treatment of marginalized groups.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    Fascinating look at the internal workings of a strike at a copper mine in the '80s from the perspectives of the women whose lives were affected by the events. This reads like an oral history, and I got really sucked into the lives of these women. The mechanics of the strike were crazy complex; I learned so much about unions and copper mining. It's really the always timely tale of those who have all the money and those who have very little.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leah Marie

    I loved the story, and how the women came together as a community to enact such great changes. It was inspiring to see how much growth they experienced to be able to travel across the country and speak out to thousands of people. However, the author jumps around from person to location and within the timeline too greatly to always follow along until mid-paragraph. I created a timeline with all the people mentioned to make it all make sense. Overall, a good book for the message.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Great writing about women coming into their own in the 80's and the powers they found in themselves and the powers in the world that hold women back. I came to this non fiction because I am a fan of the author and although I was only 7 yeas old and oblivious to it at the time of the strike, I find it a compelling feminist history and an informative read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Hard to believe the 80's were over 30 years ago. This is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the labor movement, the empowerment of women or the brutality of the mining industry that continues today in my own backyard. I loved the "ladies" in this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Shaffer

    I was completely unaware of the Copper Mine strikes and its associated atrocities that occurred in Arizona prior to reading this book. It is such a wonderful example to learn about how conflict can spiral out of control.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lois Blanco

    A timely read, part of Arizona history- reads like a novel

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Clifton Mine Strike. Labor Organizing. Women's Rights.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Buried in here is a book about an important and interesting subject by a great author, but needed some editing and and focus.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    This book gives such important insights into the many facets and complexities of a strike. With Kingsolver's great story telling ability.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Febe

    Very interesting to read about women and their forgotten role in strikes such as these

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    FYI: This is non-fiction, but it was good, exciting, and informative.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    The stories and words of these women are so powerful. The fight for workers is still the same today

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    This is the history of the strike against Phelps Dodge in 1983, as lived by women union members, members of the union women's auxiliary, and by unaffiliated women family members. The strike took place in the PD company towns of Clifton / Morenci, Safford, and Ajo, and the strikers had everything on the line: their homes were mostly company housing, and if the strikers lost, they would be out of a job and without a home, in many cases. On one side of the strike were Phelps Dodge, the state of Ariz This is the history of the strike against Phelps Dodge in 1983, as lived by women union members, members of the union women's auxiliary, and by unaffiliated women family members. The strike took place in the PD company towns of Clifton / Morenci, Safford, and Ajo, and the strikers had everything on the line: their homes were mostly company housing, and if the strikers lost, they would be out of a job and without a home, in many cases. On one side of the strike were Phelps Dodge, the state of Arizona, and the news media. On the other, mine workers and their families. PD was seeking to cut wages, cut benefits, and increase health care and pension deductions; the mine workers stood to lose most of the gains they had made in previous contract negotiations. It was 1983, the Reagan era, and union-busting was on the march. And it was Arizona, a "right to work" state, with a long history of anti-labor government. The "liberal" governor Bruce Babbitt thew the full weight of the state against the strikers, sending in hundreds of state police (Department of Public Safety, DPS) to ensure that scabs would be unimpeded, and sending in the National Guard to quell any remaining resistance. On occasion the police were needed to deal with striker "riots": those riots generally consisted of union workers striking their heads violently against lead-weighted police batons. All levels of the State were brought to bear to ensure the failure of the strike. Strikers were prevented from impeding the influx of scabs; union members were evicted from their homes (many resisted, successfully for a time); a federal judge ruled that the comapany had valid contracts with the scabs; the police looked the other way when scabs committed violence against striking workers. The women involved in the strike often had to fight the battle on two fronts: against the company and the state, and against their own husbands. Women were a small minority in the machinists and steelworkers unions, and had already endured long years of harassment from both management and from union officials and workers. But by 1983 a good number of women had proven themselves, by working harder and smarter than their male counterparts, and had gained a degree of respect within the union. But when it came time to strike, many of those same women faced opposition from their husbands, who objected to the militancy shown by the women strikers. The Arizona mine strike got little support from the national union hierarchies, who after decades of a cozy relationship with capitalism had adopted a timid legalistic approach to labor relations. Militant rank and file workers found themselves with no union support; but militancy and national support were the only way that the strike could have been won. It is always infuriating to see how capitalists, the State, and the news media work together to fight the class war, and this strike was no exception. As one of the strikers put it, the only accurate news reporting on the strikes was in publications such as The Militant. To this day, if you want to know anything about a strike you have to read Socialist Worker or other left-wing outlets. The capitalist press tells you nothing other than press releases from the company and, without other context, leaves you wondering what those greedy union bastards want this time. This is an excellent book, and excellent reporting, written long before Kingsolver was famous. It wass an important event in US labor history, and a reminder that gender and racial solidarity are key parts of the class struggle.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I first read the book shortly after it came out and remember feeling very enlightened with the information that she provided as opposed to the information about the strike that I got from the Arizona news media, primarily the Arizona Republic. Both of the times I read the book I realized how misinformed we can be as to what is really happening during a "news-worthy" event. Rereading the book I found her to be very one-sided in favor of the strikers and feel this was justified given how biased th I first read the book shortly after it came out and remember feeling very enlightened with the information that she provided as opposed to the information about the strike that I got from the Arizona news media, primarily the Arizona Republic. Both of the times I read the book I realized how misinformed we can be as to what is really happening during a "news-worthy" event. Rereading the book I found her to be very one-sided in favor of the strikers and feel this was justified given how biased the news media was towards Phelps Dodge in their reporting of the strike. The book does get a bit redundant with stories of the women and the affect the strike had on their marriages, relationships and personal growth. But these stories were important to share in order for the reader to gain insight as to what it was like to be a Mexican-American female in a small town during the time of the strike. This is a very early piece of work for Kingsolver and it was interesting to see the glimpses of her poetic narrative style come out in her writing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Prior to reading this book, I was skeptical when I read stories about union strikes in the news. Not that I am anti-union, but I just always thought "Don't they get paid enough already?" This book, however, challenged my thinking. After reading this, and making particular note of how news coverage of the AZ mine strikes was less journalism than, dare I say it, propaganda, I will doubt the media instead of the unions in the future. I also especially liked how Kingsolver focused on women in this b Prior to reading this book, I was skeptical when I read stories about union strikes in the news. Not that I am anti-union, but I just always thought "Don't they get paid enough already?" This book, however, challenged my thinking. After reading this, and making particular note of how news coverage of the AZ mine strikes was less journalism than, dare I say it, propaganda, I will doubt the media instead of the unions in the future. I also especially liked how Kingsolver focused on women in this book, and I was fascinated by their accounts of how their own attitudes towards gender roles transformed over the course of the strikes. Some may find the narrative a little slow-moving, but I enjoyed feeling as if I was sitting down with these women in their living rooms and hearing their stories. Lastly, I appreciate the knowledge I have gained regarding a major historical event about which I previously I knew nothing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan Eubank

    Here are the questions we discussed at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Arboretum Library of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden on November 4, 2015. (view spoiler)[ • How did Kingsolver’s writing style affect your reading of the book? • What is the book about? • How has time changed this book? Has work changed? • What did you think about the strike? • Was her writing clear? Why? Why not? Did anything confuse you about the book? What didn’t? • Why do you think she wrote Here are the questions we discussed at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Arboretum Library of the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden on November 4, 2015. (view spoiler)[ • How did Kingsolver’s writing style affect your reading of the book? • What is the book about? • How has time changed this book? Has work changed? • What did you think about the strike? • Was her writing clear? Why? Why not? Did anything confuse you about the book? What didn’t? • Why do you think she wrote the book? • Which woman did you most admire? Why? • Do you have any questions you would like to ask the group? • What did you think about her bias or objectivity? • Why did she choose that time period to explore in these women’s lives? What else did you want to know about them? • What was powerful about the book? What not so much? (hide spoiler)]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    The word "riveting" is used in a lot of reviews for this book. I can't think of a better word, and I tried. It left me with this feeling of incandescent rage and hope. So many things described sound exactly like things that are happening now -- tactics that police and those in power use against the powerless; perspectives on feminism and a woman's role; class and economic issues that play a part in deciding a person's reaction to a strike, a so-called riot, a months and months long lack of work. The word "riveting" is used in a lot of reviews for this book. I can't think of a better word, and I tried. It left me with this feeling of incandescent rage and hope. So many things described sound exactly like things that are happening now -- tactics that police and those in power use against the powerless; perspectives on feminism and a woman's role; class and economic issues that play a part in deciding a person's reaction to a strike, a so-called riot, a months and months long lack of work. This is a book about women finding a new and amazing direction. It's about a time when capitalism and humanity were at odds, and humanity refused to break. And it's a hell of a story. Kingsolver is, of course, a good writer, and this book shows above all that she knows when to shut up and let another person speak in their own voice.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chrisiant

    Fascinating story, told primarily through bits of interview with women involved in the strike, but supported by news bits, and some interviews with corporate folks in the echelons of the mining company. I particularly valued Kingsolver's foreword, explaining her experience of coming across the story and getting wrapped into it and compelled to write a book about it. I was also really struck by the gender norms being so active still. The strike happened in the years surrounding my birth, and whil Fascinating story, told primarily through bits of interview with women involved in the strike, but supported by news bits, and some interviews with corporate folks in the echelons of the mining company. I particularly valued Kingsolver's foreword, explaining her experience of coming across the story and getting wrapped into it and compelled to write a book about it. I was also really struck by the gender norms being so active still. The strike happened in the years surrounding my birth, and while the area is rural and the community dominated by Mexican cultural norms, it was still a surprise to see how deeply people still felt and embodied traditional gender roles and divisions of labor, and equally noteworthy to see how the strike altered that balance.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Excellent - ! Kingsolver's first NF, as she was a young/freelancing journalist. More than "just" about women in mining, the book offers an eye-opening look at labor in the modern US. Unions are not relics of the era that gave us Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Also surprising: the horrible discrimination. This was the 1980s, people. And while it reads like fiction, it is a true account. 1-1-2020 update: In retrospect, I've decided this was the best book I read in 2019. Just in case you were wonderin Excellent - ! Kingsolver's first NF, as she was a young/freelancing journalist. More than "just" about women in mining, the book offers an eye-opening look at labor in the modern US. Unions are not relics of the era that gave us Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Also surprising: the horrible discrimination. This was the 1980s, people. And while it reads like fiction, it is a true account. 1-1-2020 update: In retrospect, I've decided this was the best book I read in 2019. Just in case you were wondering... Cheers!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This was a great book! I read it for a class and was so glad. I'd never heard of this strike and learned so much about the women involved with it. I think the best thing about this book is that Kingsolver allows the women to speak for themselves throughout the entire book. They are able to tell their own story and it feels like you are along for the ride with them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Louise Sullivan

    This was required reading for a course. Very interesting about the Arizona Miners Strike of 1983. Particular focus on the wife's, daughters, mothers, sisters of the strikers. This was Kingsolver's first book it is not as good as her fiction. It is also not as good as Copper Crucible which is on the same subject.

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