A Hard Journey: The Life of Don West

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Overview

A Hard Journey brings to life Don West: poet, ordained Congregationalist minister, labor organizer, educator, leftist activist, and one of the most important literary and political figures in the southern Appalachians during the middle years of the twentieth century. Initially motivated by religious conviction and driven by a vision of an open, democratic, and nonracist society, West was also a passionate advocate for the region's traditional values.

This biography balances his literary work with political and educational activities, placing West's poetry in the context of his fight for social justice and racial equality. James J. Lorence uses previously unexamined sources to explore West's early involvement in organizing miners and other workers for the Socialist and Communist Parties during the 1930s. In documenting West's lifetime commitment to creating a nonracist, egalitarian South, A Hard Journey furnishes the spotlight he deserves as a pioneering figure in twentieth-century Southern radicalism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 "Compelling to read and essential to students of social and cultural movements in modern American history."—West Virginia History

"In this extremely thorough biography, Lorence paints an unusual picture of Appalachian Don West. Expanding the view of West beyond that of poet, Lorence discusses and offers research that demonstrates West's work as educator, activist, and minister. . . . Recommended."—Choice

A Hard Journey, well written and exhaustively researched, does more than provide readers with a lens into the life of a dynamic writer and activist. Crucially, it illustrates the convergence of American political radicalism, literature, and working-class life, with West's poetry serving as a vehicle for social change."—North Carolina Historical Review

"Lorence demonstrates the connection between Don West's activism  and his art - and the grounding of both in his lifelong commitment to celebrate and liberate the people of Appalachia. The result is an engaging narrative . . . that provides a window into multiple dimensions of social reform in the twentieth-century South."—Journal of Southern History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252077333
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 2/15/2010
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

James J. Lorence is a professor emeritus of the University of Wisconsin, Marathon County. His works include the award-winning The Suppression of Salt of the Earth: How Hollywood, Big Labor, and Politicians Blacklisted a Film in Cold War America.

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