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Joe Hill Paperback – November 1, 1969

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Joe Hill's songs From greenhorn Swede to rebel true-blue Charged with murder A guilty man? Unexplaine gunshot wound Utah, the Wobblies and Joe Hill "My dear Governor Spry . . ." "Don't waste time in mourning: organize!" "I don't want to be foud dead in Utah" Joe Hill will never die Notes Appendix A Appendix B Bibliography Index

From the Back Cover

The definitive study of Joe Hill, American labor martyr, proletarian fold hero, and song writer.
"Joe Hill became symbollic of the kind of individual sacrifice that would make a revolutionary new society possible. Thus labor radicals, communists, and novelists and playwrights such as John Dos Passos, Wallace Stegner, and Barrie Stavis used the circumstances of Hill's convictions and manner of his death to create a legend that transformed 'just another forgotten migrant worker' into 'The Man Who Never Died," as the song which Paul Robeson enthralled audiences in the 1930s and 1940s had it . . . Gibbs Smith has served us well be recapturing the memory of a man whose songs, to quote another wobbly, evoked the spirit of radicals who were the 'very epitome of guts and gallantry,' a handful of homeless heroes touched by true romance. Men and women whose spirits were stirred far above their belly-need; men and women inspired by visions of heaven on earth. Now, as then, society needs such men and women."
--Melvyn Dubofsky, The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Gibbs Smith (November 1, 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087905154X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879051549
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael Coppola on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's a shame the publisher is no longer printing this book. In a day and age of extremely poor role models Joe Hill is a breath of relief. These are the kinds of books that should be required reading in history and government classes. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a democrat. It's no wonder this is on the Rage Against the Machine reading list...
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By William E. Adams on February 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a well-researched, fairly well-composed telling of the life and the trial and execution of Mr. Hill, which led to the famous and wonderful song, "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night." However, it convincingly argues that Joe most likely did MURDER two people that night in Salt Lake City in a botched robbery. So the explosive part of the story is not that "The copper bosses killed you, Joe" as the song declares, but that Joe got a fair trial, for his era, even in Utah. He was his own worst enemy during the legal proceedings, unwilling to cooperate with his attorneys and unable or unwilling to declare a credible alibi. This does not negate the power of some of his labor songs, or the power of songs about him, for songs do not have to tell the truth to be good songs. But to see four reviews, none of which point out that Joe was guilty, after all, is amazing. You can't read this book and respect Mr. Hill quite as much after you are done as you did when you were ignorant of the circumstances of the case. The song says "They framed you on a murder charge" and there has NEVER been any believable evidence produced to support the line. I wish the song WAS true, frankly.
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By Acute Observer on April 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
Joe Hill

The `Acknowledgments' list the people who helped in this work. Gibbs M. Smith thanks his wife Catherine. This was published by the University of Utah Press. It has a Table of Contents, Bibliography, and Index. `Appendix A' has a "Joe Hill song checklist". `Appendix B' has two letters from Joe Hill.. The `Introduction' by Joyce Kornbluh compares the IWW in the WW I era to the civil rights and protest movements in the 1960s. People still have a "dread of war and the fear of want" in our society (p.1). The IWW tried to organize workers in industrial unions instead of craft-based unions; it was formed in 1905 Chicago (p.2). The former Knights of Labor also organized all workers. Machinery and technology were reducing the need for skilled craftsmen. All workers had to organize to compete with corporations that had political power.

Page 3 has the 5 points of the IWW. "Human life and happiness must replace ... the rights of property". [Was that too much of an ideal?] They were against "political action" since many since many workers were not allowed to vote (p.5). The IWW hoped a general strike would lead to a peaceful revolution (p.6). Rising prices, stagnant wages, depressions an unemployment resulted in discontent (p.7). IWW members read in public libraries about economics (p.9). The IWW songbook was a way to educate listeners. Free speech fights resulted when IWW members spoke about job conditions. They were attacked with "needless brutality" (p.10). The IWW supported striking textile workers in Lawrence Mass and Paterson NJ. The IWW was anti-militaristic (p.11), and for "international solidarity". This led to calls for killing IWW members (p.12).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting look at a both the biography of a man that became a legend for the working class and union rights, as well as, a look at why his turn-of-the-century trial and conviction was unfair and probably unconstitutional.
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