A Hard Journey: The Life of Don West

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University of Illinois Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 308 pages
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A Hard Journey brings to life Don West, poet, ordained Congregationalist minister, labour organizer, educator, leftist radical activist, and one of the most important literary and political figures in the southern Appalachians during the middle years of the twentieth century. Motivated by religious conviction and driven by a vision of an open, democratic, and non-racist society, West was also a passionate advocate for the region's traditional values. Rather than focus on his literary achievements alone, James J. Lorence's 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. Uncovering the ethical and religious roots of West's militant antifascism, Lorence uses previously unexamined sources to explore his early involvement in organizing miners and other workers for the Socialist and Communist Parties during the 1930s. In detailing West's participation in the Communist Party and founding role in the Highlander Folk School and other training grounds for radically cooperative, democratic ways of living, Lorence also describes West's lifelong commitment to defending mountain culture as an activist for exploited workers and the rural poor. In documenting West's lifetime commitment to creating a non-racist, egalitarian South, A Hard Journey furnishes the spotlight he deserves as a pioneering figure in twentieth-century Southern radicalism.

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A hard journey: the life of Don West

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Equally known for being called to testify at the McCarthy hearings and for being the father of folksinger Hedy West, poet, minister and radical activist Don West lived a sojourner's life, almost ... Read full review


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About the author (2007)

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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