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Goodbye Wifes and Daughters Hardcover – March 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In most history books, disasters-when they are recounted at all-are reduced to numbers. The dead. The cost. But in this remarkable look at a forgotten moment, Susan Kushner Resnick replaces statistics with detailed lives of some of the seventy-five men who died in the 1943 mine explosion in Bearcreek, Montana-an explosion that, for some families, still echoes today."-Scott Martelle, author of Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West (Scott Martelle )

"Susan Resnick has done a marvelous and very difficult thing. Through her fine research and wonderful prose, she has captured the heart and soul of an American town that was brilliantly alive until the day a sudden disaster all but killed it. How that day came is a matter of documentation, but Resnick is far from satisfied with mere reporting on the life and death of a town. She has dug deep, as deep as the mine beneath Montana that is the centerpiece of this remarkable history. This is one of the best books I've ever read about mining and the strong, amazing, enduring people who do it."-Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys and October Sky (Homer Hickam 20090519)

With a compassionate voice, Resnick paints the picture of innocent, idyllic Bearcreek and its earnest residents as she builds up to the inevitable tragedy to come.Resnick's book celebrates the strength and dignity of these miners and their families.  --In These Times

As I started reading Resnick's book I kept asking one question--Why am I not familiar with this disaster? And wondering one thought---Why does this kind of disaster keep happening? --The Missoulian

"Few accounts have ever done justice to the women, families and communities of coal towns, or depicted their character with such clarity as this book does. The heartrending and yet, in the end, inspiring portraits of actual people willing to battle against a callous industry are skillfully rendered."—Gordon Simmons, Charleston Gazette
(Gordon Simmons Charleston Gazette 2010-04-17)

"Resnick does an admirable job of breathing life into the story of a small town's demise and its questioning of whether the disaster could have been avoided."—Lisa Bonos, Washington Post
(Washington Post Lisa Bonos 2010-05-09)

"Those who enjoy reading history and about the perseverance of the human spirit will not soon forget this story of the tragedy that left fifty-eight women widowed and 125 children fatherless."—Robin Rarrell Edmunds, ForeWord
(Robin Rarrell Edmunds ForeWord)

"Ms. Resnick writes about a tougher time, of miners who sensed they were in danger but went into the mine anyway, determined to feed their families and keep the coal coming. . . . This story will never be told better."—David Crisp, Billings Outpost
(David Crisp Billings Outpost 2010-07-22)

"Goodbye Wifes and Daughters weaves together a narrative about death and survival that provides a fascinating window into the underground coal-mining industry during World War II. Most importantly, the book is filled with the stories of people—including those of the Wakenshaw, Mourich, Anderson, and Freeman families—that place the Smith Mine disaster squarely in a context not previously known." Jon Axline, Montana, the Magazine of Western History
(Jon Axline Montana, the Magazine of Western History)

"What makes Resnick's book significant . . . is her account of the people of Bearcreek, the miners and their families. Her treatment of the actions of surviving women, and their relentless determination to get answers and justice, not only humanizes our understanding of the tragedy and its aftermath, it vividly illustrates the strength and courage of ordinary people living and working in a coal mining community."—Gordon Simmons, Charleston Gazette
(Gordon Simmons Charleston Gazette 2010-04-17)

About the Author

Susan Kushner Resnick is the author of Sleepless Days: One Woman’s Journey through Postpartum Depression. She has been a journalist for twenty-five years; her work has appeared in The Best American Essays, the New York Times Magazine, Boston Magazine, salon.com, Parents Magazine, and Utne Reader.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Pr; First Edition edition (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803217846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803217843
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,033,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anne Alexander on March 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I could not put down this incredibly well-told account of the Smith Mine disaster. Thanks to the author's tender treatment, I have come to understand the lives of the men and women who lived and worked in Bearcreek, the last day of those who were killed in this tragedy, the impact on their families, and the devastating blow it dealt to the town. I live in the boyhood home of Emil Anderson in Red Lodge, Montana, and have often wondered about what became of the Anderson clan. Now I know the story of this fine, warm family a little better because of the excellent research and story-telling ability of Susan Kushner Resnick. The author also brings the story of the Wackenshaw clan to life, with wonderful and kind Bud, beautiful and hearty Mary, and Adam the patriarch. I was moved to tears when visiting their gravesites after reading this book, feeling as if I knew them very well. These and all the other families she follows help us see the effect that each life has on so many others, and the fragile web of ties that bind us together as communities.

This story also helps us understand how bad or delayed decisions, corners cut, and heartbreakingly slow bureaucracy led to the very tragic ending of 75 lives, the total uprooting of their families as they adjusted to life on their own, and the sad demise of a town with a lot of heart.

You will not regret buying this book. You won't be able to put it down.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It seems that so many books feel like you have read them before, repeating the same story in the same setting - but not this book! Most of us have no knowledge of coal mines - the mysterious mazes underground that exist not in our world but as peoples livelihoods in faraway places. This book brings this world vividly into the reader's mind with characters we care about. The author is impressive in her balance of the legal and ethical issues related to the disaster, the description of the mines, tales of families and their relationships, and her reflection of the beautiful Montana landscape. I highly recommend Goodbye Wives and Daughters to anyone who wants to read a book that will stay with them for a long time.
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This is an incredible story, all the more incredible because it is true. However, Susan Kushner Resnick's greatest skill is in introducing us to the lives of the individuals and the community affected by the tradegy. The author rivals Steinbeck in her ability to make you feel like you know the characters (really)! In a few short sentences Susan Kushner Resnick is able to describe the life of a character in a very visceral manner. Loved the book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book tells the tragic and gripping story of a 1943 coal mining disaster in Montana. Through extensive interviews with a number of the deceased miners' survivors, the author manages to vividly capture life and death in this small mining town, as well as the aftermath of the disaster for the town and the families. This is a cruel and tragic story, told with compassion and skill.
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Format: Paperback
Goodbye Wifes and Daughters by Resnick_ Susan Kushner
Story of a Montana coal mining accident. They used to have parades, dances and everybody enjoyed the outside. Recall stories of canaaries, this mine had mice to tell them when conditions were bad.
The morning of the inspection there are many things written down, safety issues and air was not fit for human consumption. Although he had a safety list nothing would ever be done during the time of war.
Always been fascinated by the mines but I'm not sure why=something to do with my father I think.
Story follows many of the families and what they are doing that day, along with past events of the town. Love where the location is, described so beautifully-hope to visit one day.
Politics, mine owners, mine operators, regulations and nothing gets done. Notes to their loved ones were written on walls, helmets, etc.
Enjoyed listening to the improvements via the inquisition and the followup on what the remaining members of the families had done after the devastation. Reminds me of the big disasters: JFK shooting, 911 invasion and what I was doing at the time. Same as the people here, they knew exactly what they were doing the day of the mine blast.
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).
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Format: Paperback
Tidbit: The title does not contain a typo, and other reviewers have revealed why the misspelling occurs, but I believe it would be best for the reader to discovery the reason from reading the book.

A Reader's Opinion:
The summary gives an excellent description of what the book is about, so what you'll get is my opinion and my observations. I found this author because it was an honor book in the 2011 Montana Book Awards. At first I was curious about the misspelling in the title, but that mystery was solved once I read the book (and I'll admit, a tear or two later). Goodbye Wifes and Daughters is more than just a historical account of a horrible tragedy that could have been avoided. It is also a moving story of survival and enduring through terrible hardships.

I enjoyed the way the author told the story as though you're sitting in a comfortable room on a sofa listening to each survivor or family member talk about their side of what happened. What plans did they have for their futures? What were they doing months, weeks, or days before it happened? Where were they the moment they found out? These questions are answered by those who lived it - that's how the story is told. You'll find heroes in the women and children who came out the other side, many without their husbands, and how as the summary puts it, fought back and persevered.

A mining accident might not seem worthy of a story, after all the war was on and far greater tragedies were taking place, right? You just might feel differently after reading this book, because unlike war, this is a tragedy that could have been stopped and the author does great justice to the story and to the people who lived it.

I highly recommend this book for any reader and I look forward to visiting the site to learn more about the history.

My Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
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