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Ludlow Paperback – April 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Red Hen Press; 2nd Edition edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597094722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597094726
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* One of the most shameful horrors of the long battle for union organizing rights occurred near tiny Ludlow, Colorado. Coal miners struck, and were kicked out of their company-owned homes. They settled in an ad hoc tent community and held out well until April 1914, when Colorado National Guards got nasty. Eighteen tenters were killed, most of them children suffocated in fires set by rampaging guardsmen. Mason fills out the historical record through the perspectives of two actors in its events. Greek immigrant Louis Tikas, a genuine historical figure, is a young union organizer who sticks with the strikers to the end, trying all along to prevent violence on the strikers' part. Fourteen-year-old Luisa Mole is the orphan of a Welsh miner and his Mexican wife. In eight-line, predominantly pentameter stanzas, Mason follows Louis' and Luisa's trajectories, his to death, hers to survival and a subsequent life on society's margins. Periodically, Mason interjects his own memories of learning about Ludlow and his family's tangential connection to it as well as the rage and pity, and the solidarity with the poor and oppressed, that Ludlow still evokes. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Ludlow bowled me over with its dramatic power, kept me reading on, under its spell. This violent chapter in American labor history richly deserves a poem of epic size, and David Mason, outstanding poet and long-time resident of Colorado, is the man to deliver it. Unforgettably, its characters practically step off the page—immigrant hero Louis Tikas, mistreated waif Luisa Mole, and Too Tall MacIntosh, the man who must stoop to work in a mine. Here is a major poem bursting with life, a book with greatness written all over it.”

                                                            -X. J. Kennedy


“A true verse novel (real verse, real novel), David Mason’s Ludlow revisits one of the cruelest, bloodiest chapters in the history of American labor and state and corporate injustice: the Ludlow coal field massacre of 1914, in which eighteen men, women, and children of coal mining families were killed by the Colorado National Guard. Within a driving narrative that never loses momentum, Mason’s deftly drawn characters, both historical and fictional, take on the lineaments of Dorothea Lange’s photographs. With Ludlow, reminiscent in its political and dramatic power of Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle, Mason confirms his reputation as one of America’s finest poets and a master of narrative.”

                                                            -B. H. Fairchild


“Here is a chapter of our lives in cadences that will resonate with anyone who gives them a chance.”

                                                            -Ron Charles, Washington Post Book World


“I read it in two sittings, finishing the last 140 pages in about two hours. It actually is a page-turner.”

                                                            -Frank Wilson, Philadelphia Inquirer


“…a compelling story and a sustained act of poetic imagination.”

                                                            -Brighde Mullins, The Dark Horse


“David Mason has succeeded in restoring to poetry some of the territory lost over recent centuries to prose fiction.”

                                                            -Paul Lake, First Things


“Because this is a story more Americans should know and feel, I hope Mason’s book troubles a lot of readers.”

                                                            -Anne Hyde, La Tertulia


 “His role in resurrecting the genre is his most distinguished achievement to date, and Ludlow is the peak of that achievement.”

                                                            -Andrew Frisardi, Contemporary Poetry Review





Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
I love this piece of local historical fiction.
Mary Heimerman
Do not pass up an opportunity to read a book that you will read a second time right after you finish the first read.
Rick Clark
It is no small feat to compress the elements of a good novel into a readable and enjoyable poem.
Robert McDowell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert McDowell on March 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've been waiting for David Mason's "Ludlow" for three or four years now, ever since I read an earlier draft of it in manuscript. As I recall, the poem was not completed then, but there was enough to win me over and make me hungry for more.

It is no small feat to compress the elements of a good novel into a readable and enjoyable poem. Mason's craft shimmers, and his characters will, in the end, seem more alive than many living people you know. The story is heartbreaking in its misery and government stupidity (makes this book a timely read!). Hardworking people are ground to dust by the machinery of greed. This is not a story from which you'll emerge singing and dancing, but you will come out with a more powerful and focused social conscience. Your heart will open, too, and your ever-burning spiritual flame will flare up.

Give this book to friends and acquaintances. David Mason is a major American poet. He's a poet of depth and compassion. He's the real thing.

--Robert McDowell, author of the forthcoming Poetry In Spiritual Practice
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Victor Schwartzman on March 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
Reviewed by: Cicily Janus

Posted courtesy of the Outsider Writers Book Blog

For 48 hours of my life, I was utterly mesmerized into another time and place with this magnum opus of prose. From the minute I opened this novel, written completely in verse, I could literally not put it down. It was almost as if there was a cast of thousands of miners working against my ordinary life, calling at me to keep reading, keep reading.... Or maybe it was just Luisa Mole, Louis Tika, or Too Tall MacIntosh, the MC's of the book calling out to me.

Their haunting lives leapt out of the pages and into my heart. Although I could not identify with them in the most basic sense of the word, I could surely feel the sympathy for their trials in life. Stunned from page one, incarcerated by his words by page 17, David ominously begins his empathetic look at the miners' life at the time of the Ludlow massacre.

Not only is the opening passage particularly powerful and ominous to the rest of the book, but it is acutely relevant to the recent tragedy involving all of the mining families in the U.S. This portrait is so evocative, that I can only imagine that it was what was in the mind's eye of all of those who suffered in those last moments.

David Mason poignantly looks at this tragic piece of American history and Colorado history in a fictional light and makes beautiful, heartrending poetry out of it. He blends the melting pot of the time into a stew of stories and catastrophes, turning the reader into a believer of the power of verse only to end it with:

I can only dream that maybe this is how David pieced his masterpiece together, with scraps of imaginings and songs, wafting down the peak through his window while he dreamt at night in the cool Colorado air. My hat goes off to David, and I pray that he produces a hundred more of these in my lifetime, as the world needs these stunning words as sustenance for the soul.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Colorado College teacher David Mason presents Ludlow: A Verse-Novel, a narrative tale told entirely in free-verse poetic format. Set in Colorado during the early 1900's, Ludlow tells of Greek, Mexican, Scottish, and Italian immigrants and their struggle to eke out a living - culminating in the horrific Ludlow Massacre of April 1914, in which elements of the Colorado National Guard killed striking miners and their family members. Ludlow follows the fictional Luisa Mole, who must choose her destiny between living among the miners and the middle-class family that adopted her, and the historical figure Louis, a Cretan immigrant who becomes a labor organizer and a Ludlow martyr. Minor characters from history, including John D. Rockefeller Jr., also play a significant role. Ludlow continues beyond the massacre, to show and America transformed by wars and social change, and paints a vivid portrait of the daily struggle to survive and prosper. A moving poetry epic, delving into history with the flair of modernity.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David M. Landon on June 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book was a sleeper for me. Although I read a good deal of contemporary
poetry, until recently I had not been tempted by the experiments in long
verse narrative that some very good poets have engaged in. The enterprise
seemed to me a bit thankless and quixotic. However, having heard Mr. Mason
read on a number of occasions and having enjoyed his poetry, I decided to
give "Ludlow" a try. Well, among other things, it turned out to be a great
read, and a fast one: three sittings. The story itself--based on historical
events--is compelling, but there is no doubt that the spare but effective
blank verse moves the narrative and gives the events a kind of tragic
inevitability. The documentary atmosphere of "LudIow" reminded me at
moments of the best sections of Dos Passos "U.S.A," another book that
is, as they say, hard to put down. So, I stand corrected about the
viability of the contemporary verse narrative. On to Brad Leithauser's
"Darlington's Fall."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Francis Manning on November 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is set in southern Colorado early in the twentieth century, but it's not about cowboys -- it's about coal miners. Thousands of immigrants, mostly from Japan and southern Europe, labored in virtual slavery. The mine owners held absolute power, and the lives of the miners were cheaper than the lives of mules.

David Mason tells the story of the miners' fight for survival, culminating in the massacre of dozens of miners and their relatives by the Colorado National Guard in 1914. The accounts of confrontation and conflict between the miners and the militia are gripping, but perhaps the most remarkable trait of the book is the expertise with which Mason creates characters and breathes life into them. Luisa Mole is a servant girl who straddles the worlds of the mine operators and the workers.

I have read what other reviewers wrote on this site. A couple said they couldn't put the book down. I, on the other hand, had to stop reading at some places because I was overcome by emotion. It was like reading about the holocaust of World War II. Man's capacity for evil seems to be unlimited at times, and those are the times when man's capacity for good is most evident. Behind the sub-plots and true-to-life characters, Ludlow is a story of good versus evil.

I don't know the difference between a verse-novel and an epic poem, but I know this is one of the year's best books.
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