Rednecks

A Novel

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Pub Date 14 May 2024 | Archive Date 28 May 2024

Description

"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 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 American soil, and the term “redneck” would come to have an unexpected origin story.

Featuring real-life and invented characters--men and women, adults and children, Black and white and immigrants from many countries who worked in the dangerous West Virginia coal mines--Rednecks tells a dramatic story of rebellion against oppression. Taylor Brown introduces crucial point of view characters: "Doc Moo" Muhanna, a Lebanese-American doctor (inspired by the author’s own great-grandfather) who serves the mining camps; Frank Hugham, a Black miner who helps lead the miners' revolt; Frank's mother Beulah, who fights to save her home and her son; and true-life folk hero "Smilin" Sid Hatfield, a sharp-shooting sheriff who dares to stand up to the “gun thugs” of the coal companies. These and other characters come fully to life in 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 outsized odds.

Through inspired portraits of real-life characters including legendary union organizer Mother Jones, to dynamic battle scenes set in the West Virginia hill country, award-winning novelist Taylor Brown reimagines one of the most compelling events in 20th century American history.

"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...


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ISBN 9781250329332
PRICE $29.00 (USD)
PAGES 320

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Featured Reviews

Taylor Brown has written a compelling historical novel about the Battle of Blair Mountain, West Virginia. Although the largest battle on US soil since the Civil War, it's probably fair to say that many outside the region are not familiar with it.

The pivotal character in the book is Dr. Domit (Dr. Moo) Muhanna, a Lebanese man who came to Kentucky to go to medical school and who stayed to care for mine workers and all who needed his care. He is based upon the author's great-grandfather, who also came from Lebanon to attend medical school in Kentucky.

The year was 1920, and joining the union warranted harsh treatment -- often at gunpoint--in the minds of the coal bosses. If a man joined the union, he and his family lost their company housing and, near Blair Mountain, were moved to a tent city at the top of the hill. Contrast that to the mansions enjoyed by the mine executives.

Much of the book deals with the battle between the bosses' hired enforcers and the miners who just wanted to feed their families and house them decently. Some had just returned from fighting in World War I, and employed strategies they had learned there. Still, the Battle of Blair Mountain sounds as if it was an excruciating fight, with victory never assured for one side over the other.

The action moves quickly. Not only was the book hard to put down, it was hard to stop thinking about when I wasn't reading. I recommend "Rednecks." Taylor Brown brings history to life. I was also impressed by the book's bibliography.

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This is based on a true event that happened in the 1900s between coal mine workers and anti union people. I had never heard of this history of West Virginia and it's very sad. This almost became the second civil war.

I loved the characters and the prose that Brown used to describe the area as well as the lives of the inhabitants. I'm glad Brown brought this to light, it is a period in history that should not be forgotten.

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Rednecks is based on fact and many characters did try to help them. This story is about the coal mines and the unions trying to help the miners and, as we all know, the mine owners fought with everything they had to avoid the unions. This story takes place in West Virginia – the hardships the miners and their families had to endure – as the old Tennessee Ernie Ford song goes: You owe your soul to the company store.. The mines owned your house, all the stores you had no choice to get your items and of course not enough pay and horrible conditions to work under the ground. I believe the story was very truthful to the times but I thought it was a little too long and drawn out – I did feel sorry for those people who had to work in those mines. I am sure many of us have had a family member who worked in those mines. A ery ad and heartbreaking story.

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In less than 10 years, author Taylor Brown has developed into a undeniable force. About every two years, he turns out a new novel that one just cannot put down. "The River of Kings" and "Gods of Howl Mountain" are two of my favorite books of recent times. I honestly did not think he would ever be able to reproduce that level of writing again. Then I received an ARC of "Rednecks", his latest novel (to be published in May 2024). Wow! Was I ever wrong in doubting his ability! I dare say Rednecks is his best work yet.
The book is set in the early 1920's, in the coal fields of West Virginia. It's the story of the underdog coal miners against, well, everyone else....the coal barons, the hired thugs of the companies, and even the government. I wasn't familiar with the "war" that went on there, but am totally shocked at it now. HOW did this happen???? It gives me a much deeper appreciation of the struggles and sacrifices of so many to unionize.
This is an incredible story! I guarantee that once you begin reading it, you will not rest until you finish it. Brown has written a great narrative of the war, using many varied characters. Each is well developed and feels real. The way he writes, you can see the landscapes, smell the gun smoke and sweat, taste the fear in the people, hear the guns as well as the silences. It's all here. You will become immersed in the settings, and actually flinch when a gun goes off in the story. At the end, you're exhausted, unaware that anyone could write to make you feel such a range of emotions. And you will sit back in your chair, take a deep breath, and realize how lucky we are today because of the sacrifices of the people before us. I'm glad Brown only releases a book every two years, I honestly need the time in between to recover from the last one!

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
This book shines a light on a historical event that most people have never heard of. And it's an important piece of history that should be more well known.
I could put myself into the scenes and really feel the characters come alive.
Well written and informative.

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In the early 1920s, the American soldiers who had survived the brutal trench warfare had returned from the Great War in Europe. They returned to their homes and to new lives in a rapidly urbanizing country. Except some people lived a rural existence, not much different than the lives of their parents before them. And some of those same people had spent the war deep underground in a coal mine. You see, part of the war effort required that some of the country’s fittest men continue slogging away in the mines to serve their country, whose war apparatus would come to a standstill without the power of coal.

How did the country repay these coal miners? As Rednecks brings to life, the American government fought against and dropped bombs on their own citizens as a response to their attempt to unionize against Big Coal. As they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

The Battle of Blair Mountain is not taught in schools. It was barely publicized when it occurred, for obvious reasons. But this battle on American soil that pitted the government against its own citizens is a true story that shows the perils of big business and government in cahoots.

Rednecks is a fictionalized account based on this true story and seeks to shine the light of day on a dark moment from a century ago. Before the battle and soldiers in town, first came inhumane treatment. As with other “company towns,” the company owned everything and everyone. Miners’ homes were property of the coal company, the local store would have likely offered food and other necessities on credit only, payable through paychecks. This created a situation ripe for abuse where to do anything against the coal company would leave someone destitute and homeless. Fed up with the treatment, American workers in coal mines – like in many industries – sought to unionize and better their situation.

By the opening of Rednecks, the Baldwin Miners have already been striking and the retort of the coal company is often nothing less than death or atrocious beatings. Brown builds his fictional account around a Lebanese doctor, ‘Doc Moo,’ and his family; Big Frank, a miner, and his grandmother, Miss Beulah; Sidney Hatfield; and adds to them real people like Mother Jones (1837-1930), known for her union organizing during her lifetime.

This novel is a slow burn, not unlike the conditions that lead to the ultimate conflagration. A shooting here, a response, a beating there, a response; if the town were music, it would be jazz, with the call-and-response dynamic. The miners and their families have been kicked out of their homes in town and have been living in an unsanitary tent city up in the mountains. While the coal company has all the power, the miners really have nothing to lose. Led by Big Frank, who gradually becomes more extreme over the course of the novel based on his abuse at the hands of the opposition, the miners decide to fight back with all they’ve got.

Doc Moo, originally serving as the doctor to all in the area, is ultimately forced to choose a side. History is complicated and – as the novel reminds us – the victors write the history. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a right side.

Brown’s novel is disturbing in its violence and inhumane treatment but it is not without hope, best epitomized in Doc Moo’s focus on healing and saving life even under the worst circumstances. I’d recommend this novel to anyone interested in Appalachian history and lesser told stories of American history. Not having been familiar with this author previously, I look forward to reading more from him!

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REDNECKS
BY: TAYLOR BROWN

Taylor Brown is my absolute favorite author and to say that he's magnificently talented is an understatement. I don't know how he continues to master the finely honed skill of getting better with each new historical novel that he writes. He always manages to create a uniquely distinct highly addictive reading experience that is extremely thrilling to inhale and devour in one sitting. Like a fine painter he creates a visual experience for me as I can actually see in my minds eye the deeply rich and atmospheric setting that he has created as if I am inhabiting the location. For many years his excellent historical novel, called, "Fallen Land," was my favorite. At this time, I have been mulling it over in my mind whether this one called, "Rednecks," holds a tied position, or if this one finally surpassed it as my new favorite by this incredibly gifted author.

This is a beautiful and haunting historical fiction novel where Taylor Brown, has done more than adequate due diligence by including a Bibliography that enumerates thirteen books of which he has more than proven his vast multitude of meticulous research that went into writing this masterpiece. I mean that sincerely, that this is truly a masterpiece.

I want to illuminate that the title, "Rednecks," of which I interpreted it to be the nick name for the coal miners that fought back against corrupt murdering thugs toting guns that took place on Blair Mountain in West Virginia. I might be wrong but I thought the term was coined because of the red bandannas that the coal miners wore. A second reading which I will be more than happy to do, because of how thrilling this was, if I have it wrong then I will come back and update this. This enormous battle has been quickly forgotten, but was the largest one fought on American soil since the Civil War. One million rounds of ammunition were fired and it took the United States Infantry Division of the army to intervene to put an end to it. (As is stated in the novel). This novel takes place during the year 1921. In the generous Author's Note which I always greatly appreciate Taylor Brown states that in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the National Industrial Recovery Act. This guarantees the right of American workers to be able to join labor unions of their choosing. It was part of his famous New Deal legislation, with its intent on being able to bring the United States out of the Great Depression.

Also as a part of the generous Author's Note that is of great interest to me that as soon as the coal miners surrendered the State of West Virginia charged more than one thousand of them. Among the charges that the state brought against the miners were treason, insurrection, and murder. I was deeply invested in this story which ends before any charges are brought. I was rooting the whole time for the coal miners' who I viewed as the underdog and they had my sympathy throughout for all of the injustices that were unfairly visited upon them. They were overworked and grossly underpaid for performing a dangerous job that had deadly consequences for many of them.

Bill Blizzard who was an American union organizer and who also was the commander of the miners' army during the Battle of Blair Mountain, and president of District 17 of the United Mine Workers (UMWA). Bill Blizzard is most remembered for his role in the Battle of Blair Mountain leading the miners' against the forces of Logan County sheriff Don Chafin. For his leadership role in the battle, Blizzard was charged with treason, but was acquitted at his trial of these charges. I did my own research on Bill Blizzard. I did glean from the generous Author's Note that he went to trial first and the state prosecutor recused himself calling the trial a farce and the coal operators' own attorneys stepped in to lead the prosecution. In Taylor Brown's words he said that "Yes, the hired guns of the Coal Operators Association would try a man for treason against the state and bill that state more than $100,000 for the privilege--such as the law in that time in place. Blizzard was acquitted after the defense unveiled their secret weapon, an unexploded bomb dropped on the marchers. It was dismantled on the courtroom floor to reveal a cruel payload of intended shrapnel: fifteen nuts, seven bolts, a ratchet wheel, and a bucket's worth of nails, screws, and irregular metal fragments meant to liquefy human flesh." This type of bomb was used against the miners in the novel as they were dropped on them from airplanes.

Big Frank Hugham was the central character that in my memory played the main role of the very abused miner. He was taken by the law and intercepted on a train platform on his way home and severely beaten and scarred. There wasn't any record of his arrest and the horrendous beating that was perpetrated on him. Frank, his gentle grandmother who was put out of her home by King Coal among many others who were forced to live in the woods in tents. As well as the only physician who was Doctor Domit Muhanna were my three favorite characters. All three of them were kind, humble and were people who I wish were my friends. They were the kind of characters that are easy to love. I was disappointed to read in the Author's Note that Big Frank Hugham is a fictional character, but on a positive side his character is inspired by two men. One of the men is Dan "Few Clothes Johnson" Chain, a prominent labor organizer with fists like "picnic hams," who was a member of the Dirty Eleven commando force during the Paint Creek Mine War of 1912, and Frank Ingham, a veteran Mingo miner and a UMWA member who was beaten, jailed, and evicted on multiple occasions for his Union membership and sympathies. Frank Inham's wrongful arrest and attempted murder in Welch runs particularly close to scenes portrayed in the book. I agree wholeheartedly that Taylor Brown did give Big Frank Hugham the same mixture of the two real men which he successfully blended to sketch into the composite of this wonderful protagonist that he developed. Closer to this fantastic author's heart is my other favorite character who is the second male protagonist, Doctor Domit Muhanna who was inspired by Taylor Brown's great-grandfather. The author's great-grandfather Domit Simon Sphire, a farmer's son who emigrated to the United States from Mount Lebanon in 1889, at the age of fourteen, alone except for a priest as a chaperone. He graduated from the Kentucky School of Medicine, eloped with Buddeea Muhanna of Deir al-Ahmar, and became a well respected physician and medical examiner in rural Kentucky. The author's maternal grandmother, Amelia Sphire Smart, was the fourth daughter of six children, five daughters and one son--the "baby," Mosa. The author, Taylor Brown shares the same birthday as his great-grandfather, and states he's always felt a special connection to him--especially since his grandmother liked to remind this author of that fact. I can see how closely the selfless and helpful protagonist Doctor Domit Muhanna and his supportive and loving wife Buddeea, with their several daughters' and the youngest son Musa resemble this author's lineage. I loved and admired all of his characters except the King Coal company and corrupt sheriff and the state troopers who were all murderers and were against the miners forming a Labor Union. Their efforts to stop these miners from earning a fair wage, their evictions of the miners putting them out on the street was brutal and seemed unconstitutional. It's easy to grasp why the miners banded together after all the great injustices done to them culminating from corrupt officials that account for what happened on Blair Mountain. Which is largely forgotten except by the people of Appalachia. Hopefully the readers of this gorgeous historical fiction called, "Rednecks," will honor the miners who lost their lives and their cause will not be in vain, but will gain their due recognition.

I want to share the Prologue:

"They work beneath the pale flames of carbide headlamps. Some swing picks into the face, hewing
the coal straight from the seam, while others shovel the black rubble into iron carts. All crouch like
boxers in this shoulder high chamber, which they call a room. They work dark to dark in this mine,
descending before daylight touches the deep, coal-camp hollers where they live and surfacing ten
hours later, soot-faced as chimney sweeps, the last glow of dusk to greet them.
The mine cars are drawn to the surface by mules born underground, animals who only know
darkness, like some cave species, pulling their trains of coal through swinging trapdoors attended by
ten-year-old boys who curse and sweet-talk them in turn. Boys they kick into the wall when
they like. All breathe a black dust, explosive, which swirls through the cramped, yellowy light. The
pickers and shovelers work with red bandannas knotted over their faces, the cotton black-fogged
over their noses and mouths.
Perhaps it's an inadvertent spark from a miner's pick, striking an unseen shard of flint. Perhaps a
pocket of methane has just been inhaled from the strata, freed after eons. The mountain erupts. A
train of fire bores through the tunnels and shafts and rooms. Men are buried alive, boys buried
underground. A great plume of ash blows from the mouth of the mine and rolls skyward, seen for
miles.
The morning papers will read 21 KILLED IN MINE BLAST. The country will hardly register the news.
Such headlines are frequent, far removed from the reading public, like earthquakes or eruptions on
far sides of the world.
Outside the drift mouth, two miners lie on their bellies, heaving, their hands atop their heads. They
look at each other. Red-eyed, dizzied, ears a-whine. The world blows around them, dust and smoke
and red meteors of coal. Everything clad in a pale of ash, thick and wooly. Tonight the coal camp
will wail with death.
One raises his head. 'Told you she'd blow, ain't I? This wouldn't never happen at no Union mine.
We'd have them vent shafts we asked for.'
The other miner looks over his shoulder, eyes wild, as if the Devil might be standing behind them,
marking their words. He hisses through his teeth: 'Hush with that talk, man. You're like to get us
kilt.'

Taylor Brown you have created a true masterpiece. You've done your great grandfather proud by creating such a warm, lovable and caring physician, along with both his wife and children drawing inspiration with your sense of connection to your own family. I couldn't have loved this historical fiction novel more, which is based on a forgotten piece of history. I will never forget what those miners' went through and you've honored them by creating the wonderful Big Frank Hugham, his grandmother, and his fellow miners. This is the best novel that I've read in the past few years. I have read and loved all of Taylor Brown's body of work, but this is my new favorite of all time. I know that other popular male novelists draw inspiration from Taylor Brown. I highly, highly recommend this to everyone. This will have a great audience with both women and men. I will be thinking about this story for a very long time. I can't wait to get the physical hardcover copy for my collection of the best of the best. I LOVED IT! Five Plus Sparking Stars!

Here is a link to my review by Taylor Brown's last historical fiction novel called, "Wingwalkers." I'm sorry but the Good Reads Website won't allow me to post this link. It must be a glitch.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4513221672

Publication Date: May 14, 2024! This is my oldest son's Birthday! No Wonder I feel deeply connected to this Terrifically well written novel. I'll be celebrating on this day, also!

Thank you to Net Galley, Taylor Brown and St. Martin's Press for generously providing me with my fantastic eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#Rednecks #TaylorBrown #StMartinsPress #NetGalley

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This is an absolutely stunning depiction of the early Twentieth Century efforts by West Virginia coal miners to unionize and fight for their own fundamental dignity and independence from mining companies-- stunning in both its beauty and in its horrors. It is a novel, but there is no question that the author meticulously researched the labor battles and every character who is based on a real person. I knew that I was in the hands of an excellent writer when, early in the book, I came to a transitional paragraph about coal that started with a reminder that it is found in the Christmas stockings of wicked children and ended by making that point that coal is also combustible. You can see and smell West Virginia in Taylor Brown's scenery and you can feel the heartbeats of his characters. Immerse yourself in this luscious book and you will come away well informed and inspired.

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I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel, it talked about something that I had never heard of before. It was a great drama book with interesting characters and worked for the time-period. Taylor Brown has a great writing style for this type of book and enjoyed the mixture of real and made up people.

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In Rednecks, Taylor Brown has captured the strength and resilience of the coal mining community in the face of near insurmountable opposition by King Coal and the powerful network of politicians and officials who held the control. The story is rich in detail, accurate in its portrayals, and loaded with emotional pull. As a result of its subject matter, it is heavy and graphically descriptive at times, and its pacing can be grueling in places as the story mimics the miners’ fight for a quality of life.

The plot follows the work of Dr. Moo, a local doctor treating the miners and residents of the mountain-perched communities along the Tug Fork in West Virginia and a young miner named Big Frank, his fellow miners, and his aged grandmother. Through an omniscient narrator and multiple points of view and plot lines, Brown shows how the fight between the miners and the coal companies affected every aspect of life.

The historical accuracy of Rednecks would make it an asset to any middle school or high school study of the Battle of Blair Mountain and the work of Mother Jones and other labor activists. Its characterization and plot lines make it intriguing and enthralling. It is, however, grueling. The descriptions of abuse, violence, and warfare are detailed and graphic. The overpowering sense of helplessness in the face of political and corporate collusion make it heavy and grim. There is little relief from the weight of the story, and the consistent heaviness makes the story difficult to enjoy but accurate and important as a part of a study of the time period and issues.

This novel could be used as enrichment reading or as a small group selection, paired with other historical novels set during the era. I appreciate the strength and courage Brown communicates through the characters and the commitment to accurately depicting the miners’ plight.

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Rednecks by Taylor Brown is a well written historical fiction that I had such a hard time putting away.
A brilliantly-written adventure story. A captivating time in history, well-paced plot, lovable, but flawed characters.
The rich details given by the author were very satisfying, and made the history come alive. And the beautiful prose, I found myself immersed in this literary fiction.

Thank You NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for your generosity and gifting me a copy of this amazing eARC!

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This novel brings to mind the lyrics of the mournful Merle Travis folk song, “Sixteen Tons.” One can’t help but hear the words sung by either of these proud “rednecks”  Tennessee Ernie Ford or Johnny Cash. “You load 16 tons, what do ya get? Another day older and deeper in debt … I owe my soul to the company store.” Clearly, the labor of West Virginia miners in the 20’s was essential for the world economy, yet their welfare was poorly appreciated by corporate owners and a complicit government. Brown’s novel emphasizes the cruel injustices that the miners faced as well as their heroism and comraderies. Their violent struggle has been lost to history because, as Brown points out, the history is told be the winners. Despite the shocking nature of what Brown depicts in this novel, many of the underlying issues have yet to be fully resolved. Union busting and corporate/government collusion still present problems for society.

The focuses of the story are the violent confrontations in the 20’s between the coal barons along with their hired thugs and politicians versus miners in Metewan and especially Blair Mountain. Conditions were inhumane, including long hours below ground, constant danger, low pay, a shortened lifespan, and an oppressive system that bordered on slavery. The latter included payment in script that was only good in the company stores, laissez faire medical care, and company owned housing that could be withdrawn at any time leaving families homeless and destitute.

Brown tells the story in exquisite detail using a combination of actual historical figures (e.g., "Smilin" Sid Hatfield and Mother Jones) and fictional characters who are loosely based on actual people (e.g., "Doc Moo" Muhanna, Frank Hugham, and Frank’s mother Miss Beulah). Brown’s narrative imagines the humanity of these people along with the extreme level of violence that took place during the uprising. Human life was unmistakably cheapened. He conveys senses of hopelessness and rage that undoubtedly pervaded the outgunned miners. If the novel has any shortcoming, it might be a lack of balance in the telling. He represents the miner side as almost universally high minded and heroic, while the owners and their supporters are shown as greedy, almost depraved, and undoubtedly racist. Their symbol of red bandanas worn around the neck persists to this day as a racist meme.

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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!

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"Rednecks" by Taylor Brown is a historical fiction book about a battle you may not have heard of - The Battle of Blair Mountain. This battle took place in West Virginia in the early 1920s. Mining conditions were horrible back in the 1920s and since owners called all the shots, miners were necessary but disposable. This book is definitely slanted in the pro-union side - and fiery Mother Jones makes a few appearances. Would I have liked this book a little more balanced regarding the “sides,” maybe - but I think the characters are what really sold this book. Frank, Dr. Moo, Musa, Mama B, Smilin’ Sid, and others capture different aspects of this story wonderfully. I think this book would be made into a great TV movie of some sort - it’s got depth, action, motives, and community. I’ve already recommended this book to someone who likes both Mother Jones and history. Very well written, very well researched, and overall a very well done book.

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My very first ARC (advanced reader copy)!

This was such an interesting read! It was filled with so much information that I found myself telling multiple family members about different things I had learned. For example: Redneck, the term, doesn’t come from necks being burned while working in the sun but from the red bandanas the coal miners wore when they took up for their rights and stormed the holds of King Coal. I also learned that the @nytimes still has articles about Smilin’ Sid Hatfield available to read on their app!

I would highly recommend this book. Even if history isn’t necessarily your preferred genre. This book has everything: adventure, information, and compelling characters (Doc Moo!! Big Frank!!).

I am so thankful to @stmartinspress for my FIRST ever ARC. I am so excited to be given the chance to read more books this year! thank you to @netgalley for the opportunity to request books. And last, but not least, thank you @taylorbrown82 for writing a story that is full of information, adventure, and most importantly love.

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Rednecks is an intriguing historical fiction novel about the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1920. This provided me with a ton of insight into the conditions between the coal miners, and their work in unhealthy conditions which led to a civil uprising.

Rednecks is an incredible book where the plot is a historical event that most haven't ever heard of but should be more well-known. The book is well-written, and the author did an incredible job bringing the story to life. The characters captivate you from the beginning of the story and carry on throughout the story. Once I began the story, I couldn't put it down. I was immersed in the setting and felt an entire range of emotions while reading this novel.

Thank you so much to the publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to preview an ARC of the novel.

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Several years ago after reading The Gods of Howl Mountain I planned on reading more by Taylor Brown, but until now, haven't. Based on this, Rednecks, I will keep that vow. His writing is sharp, meaty and exceedingly well researched. He is passionate about his subjects and makes sure the details align with reality, nothing romanticized to increase readership. Here we have the story that John Sayles began with his 1987 movie, Matewan. About the West Virginia/Kentucky coal miner wars of the early 1920's. The bloodiest, most violent and cruel, ruinous war fought on American soil since the Civil War. Brown does create some characters so this is not a wholly nonfictional account. But he does so realistically, with respect. Intermingled with actual personalities from the time, the fictionalized characters round out the population and make emotions and conversations possible, but this doesn't distract from the overall power of this book. Highly recommended.

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When I first discovered Taylor Brown in 2015, I was immediately drawn to his beautiful writing and story telling. I’ve read all of his novels since then and while I loved the others, especially [book:Fallen Land|25632620] , this one felt deeper and more important since there seems to be so little known or taught about the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in our country’s history. It feels important now, more than ever to consider our history.

The writing is perfection . Reading this was like watching a movie on an IMAX screen and I found myself in the center of it all - the horrific results of mine accidents, the violent shootouts, vicious attacks on individuals, the trauma on families being removed from their mine owned homes . Violence , a lot of violence , but that’s the reality of what happened in West Virginia in 1921. I also found myself in touching moments of family love, intimate details of character’s back stories and the beauty of people caring for their neighbors and friends. This is a war story, though , a war between the mine workers and the greedy, vulture mine owners and their hired thugs . They called it an insurrection, and it couldn’t have been more justified with men being held as indentured servants in many ways , being paid in company scrip , living in company owned cabins that families could get evicted from if you were a union supporter , or if the miner dies. Militia law instead of the constitution and Americans dropping bombs on American soil for the sake of greed. I knew of coal miner’s strikes , but I really had no idea .

Brown brings history to life with his extraordinary story telling, not just transporting he reader to the very time and place , but to the very heart and soul of his charcters lives , whether real life historical figures like Sid Hatfield and Mother Jones or the fictional characters he imagines there , who seem just as real. While there are courageous men who valiantly take up arms , one of my favorite characters is Dr. Moo, a hero without a gun inspired by Brown’s great grandfather. If you’re a fan of Taylor Brown, I don’t have to recommend this because you will probably read it and like me fall in love with his writing all over again and you will learn what the term redneck really means. If you have not read Taylor Brown, I’ll just say that this man was born to write.

I love knowing a writers inspiration and was glad to read Taylor Brown’s review of his book on Goodreads where he describes how he came to write this .

Happy to be back reading with my book buddy Diane .

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.

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All I can say is "Wow!"
Most of us have heard the stories of the mining industry in a not-so-long-ago time in the United States. Abuse, predatory men in suits, children dying from coal in their lungs. Taylor Brown's Rednecks gives us an in-depth perspective- one that tells the story of what really happened in those hills. Come with us and let Taylor take you back in time, back to the mines that killed not only people, but bloodlines.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the E-ARC version of this book. My thoughts and reviews are my own.

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My first five star read of the year and it was a buddy read with Angela. Books like this remind us of what those that came before us went through to secure many rights we have today. Unfortunately, many of those rights are currently being eroded, one by one. The coal miner strike, a.strike that was for better pay, less hours and saved working conditions. On the backs.of these miners the owners of the coal companies, made millions, enough to buy senators, governors and other influential people.

A violent book, a book that shows the huge cost paid by the striking men and their families. The coal owners owned these men hook, line and sinker. Company housing, company stores, all used to enslave these men. Characters that one can't but take to heart. A doctor who risks all to help.the striking miners, an old black women who is worried about her grandson Frank, the only family she has left. Big Frank, a man who suffers many horrific injuries, but refuses to give up and of course Mother Jones. She considers these men her boys and even in her nineties she shows up to.provide her wisdom and moral support to these men.

A book that all should read, but those who need the reminder of the struggles of those in the past, probably wont. An authors note includes the reason why the author wrote.this book among other pertinent info.

ARC from.Netgalley.

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An important story. How did I not know this? How were we not taught this in school? Bombs on American soil on its own people?

This is historical fiction at its finest. Taylor Brown captures the spirit of the people of the Battle of Blair Mountain. This book is written in their blood, sweat, and tears.

Each character, from Frank to Doc Moo, are treated with respect. I love how there is no sugarcoating these times, the subject matter difficult to digest, and yet Brown keeps it entertaining. I loved the relationships among the miners. Brown really made this a testament to their souls.

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