Fire in the Hole

Sybil Downing, Author University Press of Colorado $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87081-380-1
The lead title in the University Press of Colorado's Women's West series, Downing's modest historical novel reconstructs the southern Colorado coal strikes of 1913 and the subsequent Ludlow Massacre of April 1914. Downing chooses briefly married, recently widowed attorney Alex MacFarlane as the fictional figure through which to detail the anatomy of a strike and its aftermath. Alex travels from Denver to Trinidad, Colo., to defend, against charges of inciting a riot, the young man who had tried to save her mining engineer husband in a cave-in. Alex sees this as an opportunity to establish an independent identity as a partner in her father's law office. In Trinidad, she encounters law-school nemesis Bill Henderson, newly elected district attorney. Romance buds as Alex and Bill discover common concerns for human rights beneath their class differences, and together they fight the power of the federal government and industrial interests in an attempt to secure justice for the miners. As organizers for the United Mine Workers battle martial law and the Colorado State Militia, Downing introduces the plights of Greek, Italian and Slavic immigrants, particularly that of Maria Ferrara, who is pregnant by the married camp doctor. Despite failed hopes and the loss of lives, federal troops finally intervene at the insistence of President Wilson. Downing comfortably blends the personal lives of her characters with the historical figures who helped forge the final resolution. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Paperback - 245 pages - 978-0-87081-515-7
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