Storming Heaven: A Novel

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Annadel, West Virginia, was a small town rich in coal, farms, and close-knit families, all destroyed when the coal company came in. It stole everything it hadn't bothered to buy — land deeds, private homes, and ultimately, the souls of its men and women.
Four people tell this powerful, deeply moving tale: Activist Mayor C.J. Marcum. Fierce, loveless union man Rondal Lloyd. Gutsy nurse Carrie Bishop, who loved Rondal. And lonely, Sicilian ...
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Storming Heaven: A Novel

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Overview

Annadel, West Virginia, was a small town rich in coal, farms, and close-knit families, all destroyed when the coal company came in. It stole everything it hadn't bothered to buy — land deeds, private homes, and ultimately, the souls of its men and women.
Four people tell this powerful, deeply moving tale: Activist Mayor C.J. Marcum. Fierce, loveless union man Rondal Lloyd. Gutsy nurse Carrie Bishop, who loved Rondal. And lonely, Sicilian immigrant Rose Angelelli, who lost four sons to the deadly mines.
They all bear witness to nearly forgotten events of history, culminating in the final, tragic Battle of Blair Mountain — when the United States Army greeted 10,000 unemployed pro-union miners with airplanes, bombs, and poison gas. It was the first crucial battle of a war that has yet to be won.
"Brilliant, diamond-hard fiction, heartwrenching, tough and tender." — Los Angeles Times Book Review

In 1921, an army of 10,000 coal miners took up arms and threatened to overthrow the governments of two counties in West Virginia. They were met by U.S. Army gas and bombs. Here is the story of how it happened--and where it all went wrong.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Four strong, entirely different voices evoke the passion and the pain of unionizing the coal mines of Kentucky and West Virginia in the early 20th century. The canvas is broad, the action complex but even minor characters quicken to life in this memorable, beautifully written novel. The inhabitants of the hills of Appalachia see their beloved land stolen by the coal companies; forced to work in the mines, they are cheated out of their pay. Families starve, die of malaria and dysentery and slowly, almost against their will, begin the fearsome job of fighting back. In 1921, an army of 10,000 workers marches on a single town. The coal companies, the police and finally the federal government close in; hundreds are killed and the man who masterminded the attack is shot. As fast paced and compulsively readable as a thriller, this novel never overlooks the gentler pleasure of living on the land, falling in love, raising a family. Stunning sensory images sear scenes on the mind's eye. Giardina (Good King Harry has written one of those rare books that portrays a small world with impeccable clarity while telling an exciting story in vigorous, elegant prose. (June 29)
Library Journal
The coal fields of West Virginia in the early 20th century are the setting for this fine historical novel of mine unionization, culminating in the Battle of Blair Mountain, in which 10,000 coal miners took up arms against mine operators, mine guards, and paid gun thugs, and were ultimately bombed by U.S. military forces. Four narrators present different perspectives on the events, although the story focuses on Rondal Lloyd, a local miner and union organizer, and Carrie Bishop, a nurse who becomes involved through her husband andafter her husband's deathher association with Lloyd. Giardina has taken a little-known event in American history and woven a beautiful and dramatic story into it. Not to be missed. BOMC and Quality Paperback Book Club selections. Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
School Library Journal
YA This well-written novel is an earnest recreation of the turbulent events in the West Virginia coal fields during the early decades of this century. The ties of the people to land and family are the book's soul, and their violent confrontations with those who took their land and tried to take their dignity are its body. Because it is well into the story before the lives of most of the characters intersect and because the book builds to a climax of bloody repression of a strike, this may not have universal appeal to young adults. But those who reach at least as far as the black union organizer's fiery death in a company furnace are likely to finish and appreciate this tale of injustice met by bravery. Mike Parsons, Houston Public Library
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449004913
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/16/1999
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.09 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Denise Giardina is the author of Storming Heaven, Emily's Ghost, and Saints and Villains, which won the Boston Book Review Prize. She is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church and lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Stoming Heaven

    Ecellent book. My daddy had told me these stories as a kida and I didn't really remember until one of my employee satys the besy book I have ever read was Storming Heaven. WV will always be wild and woderful. And I always hear WV take me home as I cross the river leaving KY. Pat is right. One of the best books ever and to think that to get this confronation to cease the US GOVERNMENT dropped bombs and gerands on US soil to cease the ewsistment to the UAW. Why? Ask youselves that now that they take the biggest % of revenue.

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  • Posted August 26, 2011

    Great read

    Read this in college and keep coming back to it. Higlhly recommend it. Wonderful story blended with history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2006

    Couldn't lay it down

    Outstanding writing outstanding subject outstanding book. I discovered this book because it was one brought home by my son from his college required reading list. It is one of the best historical novels I've read and I'm an avid reader of such. Possibly, I think so because it is about historical events of my home place and ancestors. None the less, it is an excellent reminder that we need to be ever so aware that social brutality isn't foreign to the US. For decades I could not understand my father's adamant political affiliation, this book made it crystal clear.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2003

    Wonderful story about times forgotten

    I read this book my freshman year of college and it is one of the best works I've come across. I am now an English professor and I still use this as the assigned novel every year.

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    Posted January 3, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2011

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