Goodbye Wifes and Daughters

( 3 )

Overview

"One morning in 1943, close to eighty men descended into the Smith coal mine in Bearcreek, Montana. Only three came out alive. "Goodbye wifes and daughters ... " wrote two of the miners as they died. The story of that tragic day and its aftermath unfolds in this book through the eyes of those wives and daughters - women who lost their husbands, fathers, and sons, livelihoods, neighbors, and homes, yet managed to fight back and persevere." Susan Kushner Resnick has uncovered the story behind all those losses. She chronicles the missteps and

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Goodbye Wifes and Daughters

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Overview

"One morning in 1943, close to eighty men descended into the Smith coal mine in Bearcreek, Montana. Only three came out alive. "Goodbye wifes and daughters ... " wrote two of the miners as they died. The story of that tragic day and its aftermath unfolds in this book through the eyes of those wives and daughters - women who lost their husbands, fathers, and sons, livelihoods, neighbors, and homes, yet managed to fight back and persevere." Susan Kushner Resnick has uncovered the story behind all those losses. She chronicles the missteps and questionable ethics of the mine's managers, who blamed their disregard for safety on the exigencies of World War II; the efforts of an earnest federal mine inspector and the mine union's president (later a notorious murderer), who tried in vain to make the mine safer; the heroism of the men who battled for nine days to rescue the trapped miners; and the effect the disaster had on the entire mining industry. Resnick illuminates a particular historical tragedy with all its human ramifications while also reminding us that such tragedies caused by corporate greed and indifference are with us to this day.

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Editorial Reviews

Lisa Bonos

"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

Charleston Gazette - Gordon Simmons

"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
ForeWord - Robin Rarrell Edmunds

"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
Billings Outpost - David Crisp

"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
Montana, the Magazine of Western History - Jon Axline

"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
Homer Hickam
"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

Scott Martelle
"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

Billings Outpost
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

Lisa Bonos

"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

ForeWord

"Those who enjoy reading history and about how 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

Charleston Gazette

"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

Billings Outpost

"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

Lisa Bonos
…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…
—The Washington Post
Homer Hickam

“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
Scott Martelle

“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
Washington Post

“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.”—Washington Post
ForeWord

“Those who enjoy reading history and about the perseverance of the human spirit will not soon forget this story.”—ForeWord Magazine
Charleston Gazette

“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.”—Charleston (WV)Gazette
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803217843
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


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

Prologue: The Centennial 1

1 The Romance 7

2 The Inspection 19

3 The Teenagers 30

4 The Union 39

5 The Mice 49

6 The Notebook 55

7 The Explosion 64

8 The Panic 71

9 The Rescuers 79

10 The Travelers 86

11 The Wait 99

12 The Games 111

13 The Beloved 117

14 The Good-byes 127

15 The Grief 138

16 The Clues 148

17 The Exodus 161

18 The Inquest 169

19 The Blame 188

20 The Crash 200

21 The Survivors 207

Notes 219

Bibliography 223

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2010

    Recommended

    Written from the perspective of a woman who not only paints the portrait of the hard working miners, their families, their expectations, and the naivety of putting themselves in harm's way each and every day with only the "company" protecting. Susan Resnick follows through the entire story giving us a glimpse of the pain and suffering along with some heart warming portraits of those strong, brave individuals that picked up the pieces and went on. Resnick's strength is the combination of the history of the community, the sudden disaster, the grime outcome, and balancing it with the social and economic ramifications that wasted a once thriving community that many called home.

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    Posted August 8, 2013

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    Posted April 28, 2014

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