The Rocky Mountain Revolution, by Stewart Holbrook
Harry Orchard, professional killer, rolled up a record in the days when the mine owners and the labor unions waged what was virtually civil war. That Orchard outlived the Western Federation of Miners and that he held one of the top records for length of terms a life prisoner–all this is unimportant compared to the story of his role as hatchet man for the top guys who managed to escape their punishment. Orchard seemed to have been born without a conscience, with no sense of right or wrong. He was a bigamist, an arsonist, a professional upgrader of low grade ore, a burglar, a murderer, and–most to his own liking—a dynamiter, who used enormous charges in order to be sure of his victims. A career made to order for the crime comics and the pulps, his has been bypassed because the intensity of the “Rocky Mountain Revolution” seems remote and unreal. In his final years, he was converted, but Holbrook gives relatively little space to this phase of his checkered career. The Rocky Mountain Revolution (264 pages) is pure Americana focused on an unsavory segment of labor’s story, which helped make the reputations of better known characters such as William E. Borah, Clarence Darrow, and Big Bill Haywood.
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