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Work Song by Ivan Doig

Work Song (2010)

by Ivan Doig

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*3.5 stars*
Okay, so it turns out that this book isn't really a sequel. Yeah, it deals with a character from a previous novel, but it would have made perfect sense going out of order.
This novel tells the story of Morrie Morgan, a man hiding out in Butte, Montana from the betting men in Chicago. Set in 1919, it explores a mining town at its height, when thousands of miners were digging for copper at every shift. As things heat up between the workers in the union and Anaconda, the men who own the mine, Morrie finds himself having to take sides-- something dangerous for any man, much less one that has a whole past to dig up.
This book was enjoyable and I think I almost prefer it to Doig's last one, The Whistling Season. This one had a lot more suspense, but nonetheless, the plot did not move as quickly as I would have liked. ( )
  serogers02 | Jun 10, 2017 |
Good golly! Ivan Doig sure knows how to tell a story! Set in Butte, Montana, this is the story of a character I would describe as an all grown up Yom Sawyer. Morry has a big heart, a daring spirit and is a quick thinker which tends to get him into and out of tricky situations. The story pits a copper mining company against the union in a bit of a "high noon" atmosphere. It all comes down to a song...yep, a song. It has a love story, lots of tense situations, an urban legend librarian and more. Wonderful read! ( )
  hemlokgang | May 7, 2017 |
This is the second part of Doig’s Morrie Morgan trilogy which begins with The Whistling Season.

It's ten years later and Morrie has just arrived in Butte, Montana, a copper mining city, almost completely controlled by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. He first takes a job as a Cryer ( a chief mourner at Irish wakes), but then finds a job that suits his literature loving background in the town’s library.

Anaconda Copper has the workers in its grip, and as, the company threatens to cut wages, the miners’ plan to go on strike. A third group, The International Workers of the World , or IWW, are also competing for votes. It’s a time when labor agitators can be strung up from railroad bridges, so Morrie, as an unknown newcomer with a strong sympathy towards the miners, must walk carefully. Further care is needed as it looks like organized crime has also found Morrie, wanting revenge for a fixed boxing match involving Morrie’s brother.

I lived in the area and worked in Butte for two years. Doig really caught the ambiance and the history of the Copper Kings’ copper collar around the throats of western Montana.

Good story, solid history and Morrie is a great character. I’ll be looking forward to the third in this series. The more of Doig's books that I read, the better I seem to like him. ( )
  streamsong | Jun 17, 2016 |
When readers last saw Morrie Morgan, he was teaching in a one-room school in Marias Coulee, Montana. A decade later he's back in Montana, this time in the mining town of Butte, home of the Richest Hill on Earth. He aims to try his luck as a bookkeeper. Fortunately, he's flexible. After a short stint as a cryer, he lands a job at Butte's public library. Tension is high between the Anaconda mine executives and the local union, and both sides fear the incursion of the radical Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies). As a newcomer, Morrie finds himself under suspicion and must walk a fine line. He's helped by the advice of his widowed landlady and his fellow boarders, two retired Welsh miners. This book isn't as weighty as The Whistling Season. The eccentric characters and the somewhat absurd situations make it a fun, light comedy that will appeal to many cozy readers. ( )
  cbl_tn | May 8, 2016 |
41. [Work Song] by Ivan Doig This is the middle volume of the trilogy that begins with [The Whistling Season] and concludes with [Sweet Thunder]. I read the first novel in 2012, and the third in 2013, having requested an ER copy not realizing the two were connected or that there was another in between. [Work Song] tells the story of Morrie Morgan's arrival in Butte, Montana, in 1919, where he hopes to make a fortune and escape his past. But, as well-read and resourceful as he is, even his best-laid plans are not proof against company goons and outside agitators as the miners take a stand against Anaconda Copper’s recent cut in their daily wages, and Morrie finds himself taking sides, against his better judgment. Morrie is one of my favorite characters of all time. He is charming; knowledgeable; good-intentioned but slightly unreliable (he’s apt to pack up and run---he’s done it before). A mining town on the brink of a strike is an odd place to set one, but this is pretty much a comfort read, when all is said and done. I’m fairly sure that I’ll be re-reading all three of these novels one day; they are very easy to settle into. I sure wish Doig could have stuck around and given us more of Morrie. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | May 8, 2016 |
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To Carol Doig,
for all the harmony
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Morgan, did you say your name is?
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In 1919, itinerant schoolteacher Morrie Morgan journeys to Butte in the hopes of making his fortune in copper mining but finds instead a rich assortment of local characters before an encounter with a former student leads to a violent union uprising.

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