Reading List

Bisbee '17 Delve Deeper Reading List

Adult Fiction

Doig, Ivan. Sweet Thunder.Riverhead Books, 2013.

In the winter of 1920, a quirky bequest draws Morrie Morgan back to Butte, Montana, from a year-long honeymoon with his bride, Grace. But the mansion bestowed by a former boss upon the itinerant charmer, who debuted in Doig’s bestselling "The Whistling Season," promises to be less windfall than money pit. And the town itself, with its polyglot army of miners struggling to extricate themselves from the stranglehold of the ruthless Anaconda Copper Mining Company, seems like the couple’s fast-diminishing finances, on the verge of implosion.

Houston, Robert. Bisbee ‘17.Pantheon Books, 1979.

Bisbee, Arizona, queen of the western copper camps, 1917. The protagonists in a bitter strike: the Wobblies (the IWW), the toughest union in the history of the West; and Harry Wheeler, the last of the two-gun sheriffs. In this class-war western, they face each other down in the streets of Bisbee, pitting a general strike against the largest posse ever assembled. Based on a true story, Bisbee '17 vividly re-creates a West of miners and copper magnates, bindlestiffs and scissorbills, army officers, private detectives, and determined revolutionaries. Against this backdrop runs the story of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, strike organizer from the East, caught between the worlds of her ex-husband—the Bisbee strike leader—and her new lover, an Italian anarchist from New York. As the tumultuous weeks of the strike unfold, she struggles to sort out what she really feels about both of them, and about the West itself.

Schreck, Karen Halvorsen. Broken Ground.Howard Books, 2016.

During the Depression era, Ruth Warren is newly married to Charlie when she finds out he has been killed in an oil rig accident. Ruth relocates for a fresh start to Pasadena, CA to work towards becoming a teacher. She meets Thomas Everly, who teaches her about the social injustices happening to the migrant farmworkers of Mexican decent. Ruth teaches the farmworker’s children during a night school bonding with the families. The camp is raided and many are deported back to Mexico. Ruth and Thomas continue to fight for the workers’ rights.

Szczepanski, Marian. Playing St. Barbara.High Hill Press, 2013.

The secrets, struggles, and self-redemption of a Depression-era coal miner's wife and three daughters play out against a turbulent historical backdrop of Ku Klux Klan intimidation and the 1933 Pennsylvania Mine War. Their intertwined lives eerily mirror the 7th century legend of St. Barbara, patroness of miners, reenacted annually in the town pageant. Tested by scandal, heartbreak, and tragedy, each woman will write her own courageous ending to St. Barbara's story.

Wheeler, Richard. The Richest Hill on Earth. Forge, 2011.

In this captivating historical novel, six-time Spur Award winner Richard S. Wheeler turns his storyteller's eye to a clash of towering ambitions in the American West, when the Copper Kings of Butte, Montana, wrestled each other for control of both the "richest hill on earth" and Montana's fledgling government. The city of Butte looks like a cancerous mélange of smoky mine boilers and rudely constructed sheds when newspaperman John Fellowes Hall arrives on a cold spring day in 1892. Butte may be ugly, but it's the place to get rich.

Luiselli, Valeria. Lost Children Archive. Knopf, 2019.

A mother and father set out with their two children, a boy and a girl, driving from New York to Arizona in the heat of summer. Their destination: Apacheria, the place the Apaches once called home. Why Apaches? asks the ten-year-old son. Because they were the last of something, answers his father. In their car, they play games and sing along to music. But on the radio, there is news about an “immigration crisis”: thousands of kids trying to cross the southwestern border into the United States, but getting detained–or lost in the desert along the way. As the family drives–through Virginia to Tennessee, across Oklahoma and Texas–we sense they are on the brink of a crisis of their own. A fissure is growing between the parents, one the children can almost feel beneath their feet. They are led, inexorably, to a grand, harrowing adventure–both in the desert landscape and within the chambers of their own imaginations.

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