Pinkerton vs. the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Which will prevail? American Red focuses on the disputes between these two companies and their goal to overtake anyone in their wake. Both adhere to violence and torture. One will even sentence a prominent political figure to death.
Pinkerton’s goal is to worry about the rich and making sure the profit where Bill Haywood and his union’s goals are to get better wages for his people, an eight-hour working day and achieving this at all costs. Anyone in his way will suffer the consequences as he deems them sentenced and hires those to take them out.
Idaho Governor Frank Steuenberg was assassinated by Harry Orchard who was paid by Hayward in order to take him out. Orchard was picked up in the connection to the crime but not before he and his assistant, Steve Adams created what he thought was the perfect murder. Creating a bomb and known to this union as a handyman with ties to a bombing in Colorado which caused the death of 13 people. He showed no remorse in either case. Despite leaving and disappearing Orchard did not outsmart the Pinkertons and was arrested in his hotel room. Held in Boise and meeting Pinkerton Agent James McParland wo was the one in charge of the investigation into the death of the Governor, realizing that Orchard had someone helping him but who?
Haywood preached to his members about wanting them to have more of the American dream, more money, better working conditions and yet in reality he was all about himself. Neva his wife had polio and he was having an affair with her sister Winnie who worked for him in a clandestine way. Added in we meet Carla Capone another one of his interests who worked her way as an agent to help him learn more about what the Pinkerton’s were up to, following Orchard and reporting back to him. She even hoped to get close to McParland. McParland was charged with finding out who killed the governor but loyalties wane and fade when your life is on the line and Orchard implicated Haywood and other top leaders of the Western Federation of Minors as charging to kill the ex-Governor. Would Orchard face the death penalty or sell William Dudley Haywood, Charles Moyer and George Pettibone done the river. The Governor’s actions stopping union strikers brought him to his final repose as a warning to others. Questioned by McParland, Orchard refuses to give up any information that might incriminate his bosses. Having a warrant for all three and wanting to bring them in would take having Jack Garrett one of his agents act like a spy for Pinkerton.
The exciting part is watching Clarence Darrow in action as he works to come up with a defense for Haywood, as the Pinkertons had a spy in their midst infiltrating the defense with Carla Capone. They were involved in polling the jury with members of the WFM who had no idea they were there in order to sway public opinion.
Spies on both sides and Carla playing two sides against the middle and then things turn dark as McParland hopes to take down Orchard and hearing the confession, we learn some harsh realities, but he won’t give them up. On Death Row will he hang? Even more the mining companies had to fund the prosecution of those responsible for organizing their workers. Agents reported updates created by the Pinkertons and despite the deliberate movements of the Pinkertons to have spies getting information form the defense team, Haywood, Pettibone and Moyer were more successful, and money often wins out. However, the fate of Orchard you can predict after hearing his confession and words. Roosevelt’s reaction to the verdict about the other three let’s readers know that they were not convicted.
Clarence Darrow was a great orator and spoke of the value of labor unions in society. He wanted to silence labor unions more than finding the killers of the Governor.
Meeting with a judge who would hopefully allow them to get the warrants for the arrests, the Senator who wanted to try the case when it comes to court, Judge Wood who instructed them as to what would happen if they did not have a second witness and coming up against Darrow and Haywood’s minions. Orchard was sentenced to death, but the result will surprise readers.
We learn more about Carla and her traitorous deceits as Jack finds her alluring and another agent makes a definite wrong move but what she finally does changes it all, but will she get away with it? Why are they defending her actions and when Jack Garrett is put in charge of finding Steve Adams why do his efforts fail? The arrest of Bill Haywood was memorable and the fact that his wife played a part quite remarkable. With Judge Goddard in his hip pocket after orchestrating a bomb threat at his house, McParland thought he had the entire incident and Haywood’s death sentence in the bag. Never underestimate Clarence Darrow as he returns home only to learn that he must return to Boise to defend the union men. Added in some of the union men were captured, a train that McParland had all to himself and his Pinkerton men with the authority of the President of the railroad system, he proceeded to take these men into custody but Haywood would stop at nothing and his threats were real but will he win out?
Orchard was a significant player in getting them arrested and the death penalty seemed to be his sentence until it was changed to a life sentence in prison. Hearing Haywood at the beginning of the novel you hear his words as he had hopes to help the poor and get them better working conditions. Learning more about Roosevelt we also learn that he supported the rights of workers to organize. So many were against unions. Labor unions wanted to be respected and recognized and the research and authenticity of the incidents make this an important read and compelling novel reminding us of the beginnings of labor unions and the struggles even today for their workers in many fields. As a result of the death of the governor, more of a struggle occurred in America between two groups: Workers and capitalists. Governor Gooding thought Orchard guilty and convinced the labor union was behind the murder of the governor. A trial so compelling and the events remarkable as the author takes us inside the courtroom, the journalists and press present and the world is watching to find out who will win: the working class or the capitalists!
William Borah, a newly elected state Senator from Idaho vs. Clarence Darrow the most respected and revered attorney. In order to learn the verdict and the reaction of the court you need to enter the courtroom, hear the testimony and understand the judge’s instructions to the jury regarding corroborating evidence, confessions, and reasonable doubt. Was this trial an example in American jurisprudence of justice under the law? What do you think of the verdict? the Prosecutor James Hawley spoke for more than 8 hours. The defense attorney spoke for ten more and Clarence Darrow for more than 11 hours. When Borah Spoke for the prosecution, he closed in over more than five hours. The verdict was handed down and the results you must learn for yourself. When Haywood spoke at the start of the novel you hear him remind his workers that there are three colors to our flag: Red, White and Blue and the Red stands for blood American Red!
The research the author relates is outstanding and the final scenes allow you to know just how far Darrow would go to create the proper vision for the jury and the judge to hopefully free his client. But, sometimes freedom comes at a big price and with Neva and her sister Winnie’s help and the help of powerful law enforcement the end result will shock readers and Haywood. The trial was impressive and the threats and the cohesion lets readers know just how corrupt the legal system and the unions were back in the early 1900’s. Haywood would learn a lesson that he would remember and Orchard would pay for his deeds but what about Adams?
Lives were taken and many died in the mining accidents and no one received compensation. This book reminds us of how unions fought back then but not always fairly for the rights of workers and how Pinkerton strong armed so many with Carla and Jack working both sides of the coin, McParland thinking his tactics would win and Clarence Darrow using every trick he could come up with the end result reminds us that even today many American workers have been killed in dangerous work environments and author David Marlet reminds us of the fragility of fighting for our AMERICAN RED!
Fran Lewis: just reviews