Terrible Unrest, A
A young immigrant family must confront the horrors of the Colorado Coalfield War to live the American Dream.
When Spiro, Maria and Anna Andrakis, a young immigrant family from Greece, are unwillingly thrust into the maelstrom of the Colorado Coalfield War (1913-1914), the most brutal labor conflict in American history, they must overcome a series of tragedies that change their lives forever. A Terrible Unrest is a novel of desperate bravery and horrendous violence, of unflinching loyalty, abject betrayal and human survival.
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http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20150105/ARTS05/150109773/Historical-fiction-at-its-finest-- A Terrible Unrest is historical fiction at its finest. A Terrible Unrest, by Philip Duke, is set 100 years ago in Colorado mining communities. Review A Terrible Unrest, by former FLC professor Philip Duke, 359 pages, Top Hat Books. A Terrible Unrest A Terrible Unrest, by Fort Lewis College professor emeritus Philip Duke, 359 pages, Top Hat Books. Philip Duke’s novel begins at the turn of the 20th century on the island of Crete, Greece, where members of the Andrakis and Petroulakis families make the difficult choice to leave their rural homes for the United States. The novel follows these immigrants along the dirt roads of Crete to the port of Chania, where they set sail for America. Spiro Andrakis and Maria Petroulakis marry and have a daughter, Anna. They are salt-of-the-earth characters who eventually end up in the mining towns in the Trinidad and Walsenburg areas of Colorado. Through telling the story of their lives and relationships, the novel provides a detailed account of the multi-ethnic and multilingual workers who filled these communities 100 years ago. It also provides rich detail about the lives of miners and their families – from what they ate and consumed to their meager housing. The novel’s main characters face daily challenges, and it is those challenges that drive this engaging story. Miners endure low wages, dangerous working conditions, an unresponsive government and authoritarian and murderous employers. The novel’s female characters of all ages navigate a world where sexual assault and violence are a constant threat. The focus on the daily violence is no surprise since Unrest ultimately brings the reader to the Ludlow Massacre of 1914. Known as one of the most violent labor-capital struggles in the 20th century, the Ludlow Massacre resulted when striking mine workers encountered violent repression from officials of the Rockefeller empire and the state of Colorado. By the time the strike happens, the reader knows the origins of the strike and the key historical characters: Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, the Rockefellers, Colorado Gov. Elias Ammons, Colorado National Guard Gen. John Chase and union leader Louis Tikas. The novel delivers a powerful and textured account of why these workers went on strike and the emotional impact the event had on friendships, families, the union and the community. The hopes, doubts, distrust and fears of the characters provide the backdrop for well-crafted dialogue and scenes that help the reader understand the gravity of the massacre. With this novel, it is hard not to empathize with the miners in their struggle. The story builds a framework for understanding the massacre. There were two worlds of mining in the West: one of wealth and power and one of work and hardship. If miner families lived without economic security and personal safety, the owners of the mines and political and military elites experienced a world of comfort and control. From the Rockefellers and Ammons to Chase, the novel’s elites used violence protect their own economic security and to repress the union movement in southern Colorado. In this way, the novel captures well the political landscape of the past. There are other themes, too. This story is about survival and hope, about commitment and community as well as about perseverance and solidarity. The novel examines some of the larger questions about work and the realities of a global economy, then and now. It is about the rich history of Colorado. The novel also examines our relationship to place and how we understand where we are and where we came from. Ultimately, the novel helps us understand who we are and what we are (or are not) doing in our own communities. Duke, professor emeritus of the anthropology department at Fort Lewis College, is well-qualified to tell this story. While he was a professor, he spent years digging up the history of southern Colorado mining communities, and he now lives on the island of Crete. His first-hand knowledge of these parts of the world allows him to follow in the U.S. literary tradition of Theodore Dreiser, Frank Norris and Sinclair Lewis, who also wrote with great attention to the concerns and aspirations of ordinary people in historically accurate detail. For all these reasons, A Terrible Unrest makes for a great read. John Baranski is chair of the Fort Lewis College Department of History. ~ John Baranski, Durango Herald
In his novel Philip skillfully combines historical fact with fiction. The novel has clearly been diligently researched for its historical background. We are given a comprehensive overview of the events leading up to the strikes and the massacre. We learn about struggle for survival faced by so many European immigrants at the beginning of the 20th Century. However, it is through Philip’s own creation - the Andrakis family - that the novel truly comes into its own. It is through the Andrakises’ eyes that we gain a truly human and at times uplifting perspective on what could otherwise be an unrelentingly bleak tale. We first meet Spiros Andrakis in 1900. He is spending Easter with his family in his village in Western Crete for what will be the last time, as he is preparing to leave the island to make his way to New York to start what he hopes will be a better and brighter future. Much though he loves his homeland, the economic situation on Crete is desperate and the villagers face an all but impossible task just trying to eke out an existence. We follow Spiro to Hania, where he meets the lovely Maria and a romance is born. The story shifts forward to 1913. In the intervening years Spiros and Maria have got married, and they now have a 10 year old daughter called Anna. New York turned out to be a bitter disappointment for them and they soon discovered that the streets were not paved with gold. Along with thousands of other immigrants they have moved to the mining town of Berwind, to work for the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. The Company has a monopoly over shops, schools and homes, so miners are powerless to do anything about their appalling working conditions. For the women, daily life is one of toil and drudgery, and they face hostility from many of the local farmers’ wives. However, there are also occasional acts of kindness, and the strong bond and love between the family members gives them strength and hope. Anna finds joy playing with her friend in the countryside, marvelling at the natural beauty and wildlife that is to be found away from the polluted atmosphere of Berwind. Later in the year the union becomes revitalized. Spiro has joined Louis Tikas and other union activists. When the strike begins, miners are evicted from their homes, so union leaders set up tent colonies for the workers and their families. Life in the camps is extremely difficult, and it is a bitterly cold winter. The massacre itself takes place the day after Orthodox Easter. The account of the massacre is by necessity harrowing and emotional, but without being melodramatic. In the aftermath of the massacre, the Andrakis family are left facing an uncertain future but as Maria says to Spiros: “We’re together, we’re alive and we have little Anna. Our life can be good again, I promise”. The Bugle’s verdict? A thoroughly good read! ~ Rethymno Bugle, http://www.rethymnonnews.com/Current/book_review.htm
A Terrible Unrest is the story of a Greek immigrant family caught up in the 1913 Colorado Coalfield War: a violent confrontation between union members and the military. The book describes the family’s misfortune since their arrival; in particular prejudice, a work accident and personal tragedy. It portrays the immigration experience with painful honesty and has a most realistic feel. Increasing tension between the unions and the company is nicely woven into the Social injustice – real and perceived, prejudice, politics and miscarriages of justice lead to inevitable confrontation. The novel is well researched although the author admits some liberties in the timeline and events to make it more palatable for the reader. I was more impressed by the historic detail and knowledge than the personal plot line which, in parts, was foreseeable. Not having known anything about the conflict, mining in the US and the location during this period, I have learned some interesting information and discovered an insight into the people and history. ~ Helen Hollick, Historical Novel Society
There is a plaque on the wall of a house in Loutra, near Rethymnon in Crete, commemorating the birthplace of Louis Tikas, one of the leaders of the 11,000 Colorado miners on strike in 1913-14 against the Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. Tikas was murdered in cold blood by the Colorado National Guard on 20 April 1914 as part of what has become known as the Ludlow Massacre. A Terrible Unrest by Philip Duke is a historical novel published for the centenary of the massacre. It tells the story of the strike. The novel is a worthy tribute to Tikas and to the bravery of the miners. Duke combines historical figures and events with fictional characters. In so doing, he creates a powerful retelling of the strike where the narrative drives the reader on, even though the story is already known. Much of the narrative centres on a Cretan immigrant family, the Andrakises. We learn of how brutal life was in the company-owned towns, the conditions that led to the strike and the way the union organised, largely through the experiences of the Andrakises and their friends. This works well in showing what life was like for the strikers and their families in the Ludlow Colony. Duke handles the differences of opinion between strikers, their families and their union leaders sympathetically. He describes effectively how Rockefeller’s Colorado henchmen set out to crush the miners’ union, and how they were able to use the sheriffs, the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency and even the state governor and the National Guard to try and break the miners’ resolve. Duke shows the miners defending themselves but that, even when that is with weapons, the state is always better armed and more violent. His depiction of how events unfold on the day of the Ludlow massacre is particularly memorable. The novel is at its best when it focuses on the mining community. But Duke’s attempts to tell the story from the viewpoint of a range of ruling class figures are less successful. His biggest weakness is that he does not do justice to the possibilities for solidarity action as news of the massacre spread. There is no sense of the insurrectionary mood in Southern Colorado or the potential for a national solidarity strike and the failure of the unions to act on that mood. For a novelist to claim to be “as historically accurate as possible” that is a failing. Nonetheless, this novel deserves a wide readership. Some 100 years ago Upton Sinclair was so enraged at what happened in this strike that he wrote “King Coal”. Philip Duke’s novel will help get a new generation equally as enraged. ~ Dave Gibson, Socialist Review : http://socialistreview.org.uk/393/terrible-unrest
http://www.thefreelibrary.com/A+Terrible+Unrest.-a0372883049 Critique: The Colorado Coalfield War was a major labor uprising in Colorado between 1913 and 1914. It culminated in the Ludlow Strike, which ended as a massacre when the Colorado National Guard attacked a tent city occupied by striking coal miners. In retaliation for Ludlow, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of mines over the next ten days, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the National Guard along a forty-mile front from Trinidad to Walsenburg. The entire strike would cost between sixty-nine and 199 lives. It was described as the "deadliest strike in the history of the United States" Philip Duke's deftly written novel based upon that horrific struggle is a gripping work of historical fiction and very highly recommended for community library collections. It should be noted that "A Terrible Unrest" is also available in a Kindle edition ($6.59). ~ Midwest book Review, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/A+Terrible+Unrest.-a0372883049
This gripping tale told with a masterly grasp is poignant and disturbing. It’s not a book you can easily put down. An unspeakable tragedy provides the backdrop to this novel about a murky and murderous corner of American History. Early last century, immigrants had little choice over what jobs they could take and miners had few rights. Spiro Andrakis, having scant hope of making a living in his native Crete, leaves with his new family for his part of the American Dream. Resistant at first to having anything to do with those who wish to unionise the miners, just wanting to work and earn his keep, he is swept up in historical currents too extreme to be ignored. The events leading up to the Ludlow Massacre are seen through the eyes of the Andrakis family. Phil Duke brings to his vivid canvas the larger-than-life characters who made the history that Spiro, Maria and their daughter Anna live through: John D. Rockefeller, Mother Jones, Governor Elias Milton Ammons, the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency and the indomitable Louis Tikas, who also came from Crete and led the colliers in their strike. Professor Duke was a member of the archaeological team that excavated the scene of the massacre and is uniquely placed to blend fact with fiction in reminding us of the times of a terrible unrest. ~ M. C. Morison, author of Time Sphere.