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Book Cover for: The Mine Wars: The Bloody Fight for Workers' Rights in the West Virginia Coalfields, Steve Watkins

The Mine Wars: The Bloody Fight for Workers' Rights in the West Virginia Coalfields

Steve Watkins

For fans of Steve Sheinkin and Deb Heiligman, a riveting true story of the West Virginia coal miners who ignited the largest labor uprising in American history.

In May of 1920, in a small town in the mountains of West Virginia, a dozen coal miners took a stand. They were sick of the low pay in the mines. The unsafe conditions. The brutal treatment they endured from mine owners and operators. The scrip they were paid-instead of cash-that could only be used at the company store.

They had tried to unionize, but the mine owners dug in. On that fateful day in May 1920, tensions boiled over and a gunfight erupted-beginning a yearlong standoff between workers and owners.

The miners pleaded, then protested, then went on strike; the owners retaliated with spying, bribery, and threats. Violence escalated on both sides, culminating in the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in United States history.

In this gripping narrative nonfiction book, meet the resolute and spirited people who fought for the rights of coal miners, and discover how the West Virginia Mine Wars paved the way for vital worker protections nationwide. More than a century later, this overlooked story of the labor movement remains urgently relevant.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publish Date: May 14th, 2024
  • Pages: 272
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.30in - 6.24in - 0.89in - 0.93lb
  • EAN: 9781547612185
  • Recommended age: 10-14
  • Categories: History - United States - 20th CenturySocial Topics - Civil & Human RightsLaw & Crime

About the Author

Steve Watkins is an award-winning author of twelve books for young readers, including Down Sand Mountain, which won the 2009 Golden Kite Award for young adult fiction. He also writes books for grown-ups, and won a Pushcart Prize for one of the stories in his collection My Chaos Theory. He is co-editor of the online ideas and features magazine Pie & Chai, a former English professor at the University of Mary Washington, a longtime yoga instructor, and father of four daughters. He and his family live in Fredericksburg, VA.

Praise for this book

"A well-researched account of an essential historical account of the U.S. labor movement. Highly recommended for middle school readers and beyond." --School Library Journal, starred review

"West Virginia, the Mountain State, is also historically known for both coal mining and Appalachian poverty. Watkins explores the nexus between them in this overlooked chapter in the history of the labor movement." --The Horn Book

"[A] Relevant and enlightening read." --Publishers Weekly

"Readers will likely never have heard of this piece of union history--the telling of it for a teen audience is long overdue, and it is unfortunate that it remains sharply relevant today." --BCCB

"A gritty, bloody tour of American history that's absent from most students' textbooks . . . Compelling." --Booklist

"In this meticulously researched treatise, Watkins compellingly details the struggles for union recognition--as well as violent battles, courtroom dramas, near-victories, and devastating losses--while providing clear, detailed information about people on both sides and using photos, newspaper articles, and quotes to great advantage. . . Fascinating and powerful." --Kirkus Review