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Holding the Line: Woman in the Great Arizona Mine Strike of 1983

Overview

Holding the Line, Barbara Kingsolver's first non-fiction book, is the story of women's lives transformed by an a signal event. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, it is part oral history and part social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work together as a community. Like Kingsolver's award-winning novels, Holding the Line is a beautifully written book grounded on the strength of its characters.

Hundreds of families held the line in ...

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Overview

Holding the Line, Barbara Kingsolver's first non-fiction book, is the story of women's lives transformed by an a signal event. Set in the small mining towns of Arizona, it is part oral history and part social criticism, exploring the process of empowerment which occurs when people work together as a community. Like Kingsolver's award-winning novels, Holding the Line is a beautifully written book grounded on the strength of its characters.

Hundreds of families held the line in the 1983 strike against Phelps Dodge Copper in Arizona. After more than a year the strikers lost their union certification, but the battle permanently altered the social order in these small, predominantly Hispanic mining towns. At the time the strike began, many women said they couldn't leave the house without their husband's permission. Yet, when injunctions barred union men from picketing, their wives and daughters turned out for the daily picket lines. When the strike dragged on and men left to seek jobs elsewhere, women continued to picket, organize support, and defend their rights even when the towns were occupied by the National Guard. "Nothing can ever be the same as it was before," said Diane McCormick of the Morenci Miners Women's Auxiliary. "Look at us. At the beginning of this strike, we were just a bunch of ladies."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The women tell remarkable stories of their lives and actions. . . . This book pays powerful tribute to their resolve and passion for economic justice."—Publishers Weekly

"Like Kingsolver's fiction, Holding the Line is a beautifully written book grounded on the strength of its characters—only this time the characters are real."—Journal of the Southwest

"Holding the Line is both clear and emotional, the story of women who try to get a fair shake in their workplace and realize they can stop at nothing short of control over their entire lives. This is a report from the trenches of where the political meets the personal."—John Sayles

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Several mining towns have grown up around the rich Morenci copper pit in southern Arizona, each ruled to a certain extent by the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation. In 1983, the company tried to freeze wages and deny the miners cost-of-living protection. The resulting strike lasted a long and miserable 18 months; management ultimately won its bid to have the union decertified but its business was damaged in the process, and the strikers took some comfort in a series of legal victories that, suggesting a discriminatory pattern of law enforcement, pk kept the labor activists out of jail. answers gs's question below/pk Journalist and novelist Kingsolver ( The Bean Trees ) has written a stirring partisan account of the role the area's women played in holding the strike pk linewhat line?gs and in keeping families and communities together, despite the strike's failure. The women tell remarkable stories of their lives and actions, displaying the strength that led one corporate official to remark, ``If we could just get rid of these broads, we'd have it made.'' This book pays powerful tribute to their resolve and passion for economic justicewhat about the cops who discriminated in the strikers' favor???gs//doesn't seem within the scope of this book--rl/i've answered this above/pk . (Nov.)
Library Journal
In 1983, after the Phelps Dodge Copper Corporation demanded an unprecedented amount of pay and benefits cuts, a union consortium, consisting of mostly Hispanic women, held a strike in four small Arizona mining towns. The women's lives were transformed. Their culture had confined them to limited roles; they now became leaders, strategists, spokespersons, and morale-boosters. The first-person narratives of these women dominate this account of the 18-month strike, written by novelist Kingsolver, author of The Bean Trees (LJ 2/1/88) and Homeland and Other Stories ( LJ 5/15/89). While this format is interesting, fewer quotations and additional industry and strike background would have made the account more effective. Despite these reservations, the book will interest readers of labor studies, women's studies, and community/ethnic studies.-- Frieda Shoenberg Rozen, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Booknews
The story of how women in several small towns in Arizona sustained the strike for 18 months. Cloth edition unseen, $26. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780875461564
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1989
  • Series: 1/30/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 213

Meet the Author

Barbara Kingsolver
Barbara Kingsolver
Equally at home with poetry, novels, and nonfiction narratives, Barbara Kingsolver credits her careers in scientific writing and journalism with instilling in her a love of nature, a writer's discipline, and a strong sense of social justice.

Biography

According to the biography on her website, Barbara Kingsolver began writing around the age of nine. Her early "oeuvre" included poems, short stories, and essays, including one noteworthy piece on school safety that was published in the local newspaper, helped to pass a local bond issue, and netted the author a $25 savings bond -- "on which she expected to live comfortably into adulthood."

Kingsolver left her native Kentucky to attend DePauw University on a piano scholarship; but intellectual curiosity (the same quality that informs her writing) prompted her to transfer from the music school to the college of liberal arts where she majored in biology. Immediately after college, she traveled in Greece and France and returned to the U.S. to pursue her master's degree in science from the University of Arizona. She worked for a while as a science writer for the university before becoming a freelance journalist. In 1986 she won an Arizona Press Club Award.

Kingsolver's first novel, The Bean Trees, was composed entirely at night during a period of chronic, pregnancy-related insomnia. Published in 1988, this story of a young woman transplanted from Kentucky to Tucson was reviewed enthusiastically by critics. " As clear as air," rhapsodized The New York Times Book Review. "It is the southern novel taken west, its colors as translucent and polished as one of those slices of rose agate from a desert shop." Readers, too, proclaimed the story a delight.

Since then, Kingsolver has produced a string of bestselling novels, including Pigs in Heaven, The Poisonwood Bible (an Oprah's Book club selection), and Prodigal Summer. She has also authored collections of her poems (Another America), short stories (Homeland), and essays (Small Wonders); as well as nonfiction narratives like Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Good To Know

In 2008, Kingsolver delivered the commencement address at Duke University, offering graduates advice on "How to be Hopeful."

She is a member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock and roll band consisting of published writers, including Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry, and Stephen King among others.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      April 8, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Annapolis, Maryland
    1. Education:
      B.A., DePauw University, 1977; M.S., University of Arizona, 1981
    2. Website:

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