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Joe Hill Paperback – September 1, 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (September 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140139419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140139419
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 9, 1997
Format: Paperback
Wallace Stegner's novel attempts to strip away the layers of mythology
created around songwriter, artist and organiser Joe Hill. Taciturn Swedish sailor,
fervent Wobbly, possible murderer, victim of conspiracy and, ultimately,
willing martyr - all these aspects of the legendary Trade Unionist are
explored in an effort to get to grips with the "real" Joe Hill.
Stegner has tried to penetrate the conventional IWW mythology around Hill, refusing
to accept the simplistic interpretation of an innocent man fitted up by the law.
Instead, the Joe Hill he writes of is human, multidimensional - possibly
guilty but a flawed hero nonetheless. Stegner explores the creation of a martyr andthe creation of a
myth. Reading the story of Hill adds a poignancy and human dimension to the
formulaic elegies of folksong and syndicalist tradition.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Civil War scholar on September 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Of course it's not factual history! All these reviewer smashing the book because they didn't get history out of it need to look more closely. The front cover states that the book is "a biographical novel." And if you read the back cover, it says that the author is "blending fact with fiction" to tell a good story. In other words, it's not history, it's a fictional story based on a true story. So it never claims to be a history. It's not the author's fault the readers are oblivious to the clear subtitle of the book indicating it's a "novel." As a novel and a story, it's pretty darn good.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By RBI on February 19, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
THIS IS, CONTRARY TO SOME OF THE REVIEWS (ONE WONDERS IF THEY ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK) A SUPERB HISTORICAL NOVEL AND QUITE CLOSE TO THE REALITY OF WHO JOE HILL WAS. AT BEST HE WAS A TERRIBLY CONFUSED MALCONTENT, AT WORST A PREDITORY PSYCHOPATH USING THE LABOR MOVEMENT THE WAY CRIMINALS OFTEN USED THE CIVIL RIGHTS AND OTHER GRASS ROOTS MOVEMENTS FOR THEIR OWN DESIRES. THE AUTHOR ACTUALLY IS MUCH EASIER ON HILL THAN GIBBS IN HIS BOOK AND ONE IS NEVER QUITE SURE IF JOE WAS GUILTY (HE WAS, WITHOUT A DOUBT). THE BOOK IS WELL WORTH READING.
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11 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Larry Dilg on August 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you want to know about Joe Hill, this is not the book for you. Readers curious about Stegner's career might be interested in this early effort, but after this first impression, I have little curiosity about the author's later efforts, despite his reputation as a master teacher. Writing about a legend is difficult because the temptation to reduce the Myth to human terms is great. In the process of putting feet of clay on the immortal Joe Hill, Stegner creates a hoodlum-poet, an angry, alienated legal alien with a father complex, a stiff upper lip, and a penchant for violence. The occasional descriptions of his songwriting seem facile and psychological. One senses the author's precious regard for his own words and images struggling with his need to be macho and tough-minded. I couldn't help but feel that Joe Hill was being cut down to make room for Wallace Stegner, the real artist. As for the revolutionary, the Wobbly, the visionary, the author makes that persona seem like so much hype and rhetoric. There's a nice description of a labor camp full of suffering and the potential for organization, but most of the labor scenes are sprinkled with so much violence that one gets little sense of the idealistic nature of the enterprise. Anyone interested in the truth needs to see both sides of human behavior, but Stegner's penchant for the small, trivial, and mean outweighs any vision of the lasting and good, despite his creation of a doubting minister. We have a few opportunities to see Joe at his best in this novel, but those moments are consistently undercut by awareness that his words will be memorialized by self-aggrandizing union leaders and deluded idealists. After over one hundred pages about his trial and death, the reader is sick of Stegner's malaise and bad spirits. If you want to know Joe Hill, sing his songs.
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12 of 26 people found the following review helpful By "wobbly@execpc.com" on August 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Stenger believes Hill is guilty from the start and tries to make him out to be a common criminal. While Joe is no choir boy the truth is stranger than fiction. Little is known of Hill's buddy Otto Applequist, but over the years more facts have been uncovered about this man's fascinating life. Not the ... son of a Swedish minister but one of many sons of a working class family. An immigrant who becomes disillusioned with the American dream after he finds, instead of streets paved with gold, only forests, mines, docks, and streets covered with the blood of his fellow workers. Not a romantic bandit, but a revolutionary who chose to use his death sentence to bring the cause of labor to the forefront. If you want a balanced book about him get Joe Hill by Gibbs Smith. "Don't Mourn - Organize!" - Joe Hill 1917
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