Rednecks: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

A pivotal moment in labor history, captured in a novel that brings historical figures and fictional characters to life.

- Sarah

— From Rednecks (Staff Pick)


A historical drama based on the Battle of Blair Mountain, pitting a multi-ethnic army of 10,000 coal miners against mine owners, state militia, and the United States government in the largest labor uprising in American history.

Rednecks is a tour de force, big canvas historical novel that dramatizes the 1920 to 1921 events of the West Virginia Mine Wars—from the Matewan Massacre through the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed conflict on American soil since the Civil War, when some one million rounds were fired, bombs were dropped on Appalachia, and the term “redneck” would come to have an unexpected origin story.

Brimming with the high stakes drama of America’s buried history, Rednecks tells a powerful story of rebellion against oppression. In a land where the coal companies use violence and intimidation to keep miners from organizing, “Doc Moo" Muhanna, a Lebanese-American doctor (inspired by the author’s own great-grandfather), toils amid the blood and injustice of the mining camps. When Frank Hugham, a Black World War One veteran and coal miner, takes dramatic steps to lead a miners' revolt with a band of fellow veterans, Doc Moo risks his life and career to treat sick and wounded miners, while Frank's grandmother, Beulah, fights her own battle to save her home and grandson. Real-life historical figures burn bright among the hills: the fiery Mother Jones, an Irish-born labor organizer once known as "The Most Dangerous Woman in America," struggles to maintain the ear of the miners ("her boys") amid the tide of rebellion, while the sharp-shooting police chief "Smilin" Sid Hatfield dares to stand up to the "gun thugs" of the coal companies, becoming a folk hero of the mine wars.

Award-winning novelist Taylor Brown brings to life one of the most compelling events in 20th century American history, reminding us of the hard-won origins of today's unions. Rednecks is a propulsive, character-driven tale that’s both a century old and blisteringly contemporary: a story of unexpected friendship, heroism in the face of injustice, and the power of love and community against all odds.

About the Author

TAYLOR BROWN grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of western North Carolina. He is the recipient of the Montana Prize in Fiction and a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. His novels include Fallen Land, The River of Kings, Gods of Howl Mountain, Pride of Eden, and Wingwalkers. He lives in Savannah, Georgia.

Praise For…

"Taylor Brown is one of the few [authors] who can write this well about noble men and women in such violent and difficult circumstances. . . [A]n important treatment of a lost war on American soil, an undervalued historical moment when the forces of labor rose up against their ruthless capitalist overlords. . . Every student of American history should read this book." - Matt Bondurant, author of Oleander City and The Wettest Country in the World

"Just like its namesake, Rednecks is dressed in grit, moxie, and charm. The West Virginia Mine Wars' secret history turns urgently prescient in Taylor Brown's steady hands. Every single page sings with writing that is lyrical, agile, and bold. A matchless novel."
--Amy Jo Burns, author of Mercury

"A story of working class people and politics, brotherhood and bloodshed, Rednecks thrives at the line with poetry deep and deliberate. Taylor Brown's language is the lantern in the mine shaft. Somehow he has rendered history kinetic."
--David Joy, author of Those We Thought We Knew

"[A]n absolute stick of dynamite. . . [Rednecks is] a muddy, sinewy, utterly human story, told in short, fiery chapters that jump between characters at an exciting pace." - Shaun Slifer, Creative Director of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum

"A sweeping tale of ruthless violence, corruption and injustice, Taylor Brown’s Rednecks is so action-packed you might think it was pure invention--if it weren’t true bloody history brought to life. Rednecks celebrates the courage and persistence of hardworking Americans–- evicted and gunned-down, starved and bombed--in a stratified world where the bosses don’t give “one ounce of goddamn.” Rich in historical detail and peopled with vivid characters, this novel of West Virginia’s 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain is inspiring fiction for our times."
--Kate Manning, author of Gilded Mountain

"Brown skillfully examines workers’ frustrations with large corporations and the politicians they pay off. This one hits hard." --Publishers Weekly

"Brown dexterously illustrates the eternal dichotomy between capitalism and labor in this immersive novel about a united multiethnic group of miners who tied red bandanas around their necks as a symbol of solidarity." --Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250329332
ISBN-10: 1250329337
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 14th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English