28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but a tough read
, March 13, 2009
This review is from: The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in Its First Age of Terror (Hardcover)
I'm very interested in this period in American history. But I still found this book very difficult to read. As other reviewers have pointed out, it's a scholarly examination of not only the Wall Street bombing, but the entire Socialist and Anarchist movement in the early part of the 20th century.
There are lots of names, lots of dates, lots of events. Chapters tend to jump back in time to cover a specific topic, which I found to be very confusing at times.
The book is very well written, but is very dry reading at times. I had to force myself through much of the last half of the book.
There was one statement in the book that made me step aside and do some research of my own. The author was describing the way that some communities "handled" the socialist movement, and she said: "In Bisbee, Arizona, mine bosses loaded some twelve hundred Wobblies and their families into rail cars and shipped them out to wither in the desert."
That sentence shocked me. Would people really have taken thousands of people (assuming "families" included women and children) into the desert and abandoned them to die? So I did a web search on "bisbee arizona wobblies".
I found a number of articles on the "Bisbee Deportation", all of which described the incident in much less sensational terms than the author. All of the articles described the people deported as "men" ("The deputies arrested more than 2000 men..."; "The posse rounded up more than 1,200 men..."). None of them mentioned "familes". The men were not "shipped out to wither in the desert", they were put on a train to Columbus, New Mexico. You can read the rest of the details in the articles you'll find. But I could find no account of anyone "withering in the desert".
This is a pretty major incident (although, like much of the things that are described in the book, not very well known today). The fact that the Author's brief and somewhat lurid description of the Deportation is so much at odds with the other accounts I read, makes me wonder what other inaccuracies might be in the book.
That aside, if you have a serious interest in this period of history, this would be an excellent reference book. But if you're looking for lighter historical reading for entertainment or general knowledge, this is probably not a good choice.
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