The Dolans live by their wits, jumping freight trains and lining up for day work at crooked job agencies. While sixteen-year-old Rye yearns for a steady job and a home, his older brother, Gig, dreams of a better world, fighting alongside other union men for fair pay and decent treatment. Enter Ursula the Great, a vaudeville singer who performs with a live cougar and introduces the brothers to a far more dangerous creature: a mining magnate determined to keep his wealth and his hold on Ursula.
While its refracted, nonlinear narrative centers on early progressive fights, The Cold Millions feels timed perfectly to this moment of stark income inequality, where the crevasse between billionaires and workers widens and activism increases ... Swelling with empathy for the underdogs (but never too preachy), Walter’s novel reveals people caught in the enormous sweep of history as they strive to better their circumstances ... I haven’t encountered a more satisfying and moving novel about the struggle for workers’ rights in America.
...informed by intensive, ardent research and reverence for his home city; consider this book a train ticket to a past time and place. In addition to boldly voiced characters and dramatic suspense, in this century-ago tale of labor rights and wealth inequality readers will find plenty of modern relevance.
The fact that the same author has written books as wildly different and all as transporting as The Zero (2006), The Financial Lives of the Poets (2009), Beautiful Ruins (2012), and now this latest tour de force is testimony to Walter’s protean storytelling power and astounding ability to set a scene, any scene ... We have heard that Jess Walter writes nonstop: Seven days a week, 365 days a year. Please, never stop.