The Cold Millions

The Cold Millions

A Novel

Book - 2020
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"One of the most captivating novels of the year." - Washington Post

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A Best Book of the Year: Bloomberg | Boston Globe | Chicago Public Library | Chicago Tribune | Esquire | Kirkus | New York Public Library | New York Times Book Review (Historical Fiction) | NPR's Fresh Air | O Magazine | Washington Post | Publishers Weekly | Seattle Times | USA Today

A Library Reads Pick | An Indie Next Pick

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins comes another "literary miracle" (NPR)--a propulsive, richly entertaining novel about two brothers swept up in the turbulent class warfare of the early twentieth century.

An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early twentieth-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams.

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.

Dubious of Gig's idealism, Rye finds himself drawn to a fearless nineteen-year-old activist and feminist named Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. But a storm is coming, threatening to overwhelm them all, and Rye will be forced to decide where he stands. Is it enough to win the occasional battle, even if you cannot win the war?

Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, The Cold Millions is a tour de force from a "writer who has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors" (Boston Globe).

Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780062868084
006286808X
Branch Call Number: WALTER J
Characteristics: 342 pages : map ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

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LPL_LeahN Feb 11, 2021

I LOVED this historical fiction about the labor movement in early 20th century Spokane. Jess Walter's writing style is so engaging and his research so impeccable that it reads almost like narrative nonfiction. The Dolan brothers will steal your heart (and your chickens), and make you want to pour... Read More »

I've super loved this historical fiction about the labor movement in early 20th century Spokane. The Dolan brothers will steal your heart (and your chickens) and make you want to pour one out for all the people who came before, started the fight and dared to dream of a better, more equitable Amer... Read More »

Comment
LPL_DirectorBrad Nov 16, 2020

Jess Walters, amazing as always. At first, I wasn't thrilled about reading 'historical fiction' but damn, this book jumped right into my hands and I couldn't put it down. Great characters, great writing. All the things you come to expect from Jess Walter. A superb fictional account of the Wobblie... Read More »


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m
mimipater
Mar 25, 2021

I liked this (historical) novel. I liked Beautiful Ruins. Very compelling read and telling about the IWW and its struggles and enemies circa 1900 ish. Knowable characters, sympathetic to immigrants and working people. I know Spokane so it's a bonus learning about its place as a city back when and the story of some of the places and buildings.

l
lindemuldercr
Mar 03, 2021

Modern Mrs Darcy

n
NedSu
Mar 02, 2021

I liked a lot about this novel. For one, it brings to life a time in our Northwest history of organized labor and the Wobblies (disorganized labor). It mixed historical figures with fictional characters in a way that made it easy to read. The author's ability to mix different characters voices was well done. I thought, though, that the epilogue was unecessary, and the last minutes of several characters lives was a bit too dramatic. Overall, though, this is a type of historical novel is recommended reading.

l
laphampeak
Feb 20, 2021

The story takes place in early 1900's where poor workers mine, farm, and log. Brothers Rye and Gig become followers of union workers standing up for free speech and workers rights. I applaud Walter for his literary historic fiction style whose many characters were real. I loved the PNW setting but was not in the mood for a whole book based on union disputes. I preferred Marlantes "Deep River". Walter's insight transcends time period. "All my life,......to my more recent travels in the glorious west, I have seen my people, my family and my class, suffer under the inequalities of a system that produces paupers at one extreme and multimillionaires at the other, and nothing in the middle but space. That's why I'm in this work."

LPL_LeahN Feb 11, 2021

I LOVED this historical fiction about the labor movement in early 20th century Spokane. Jess Walter's writing style is so engaging and his research so impeccable that it reads almost like narrative nonfiction. The Dolan brothers will steal your heart (and your chickens), and make you want to pour one out for all those who came before, started the fight, and dared to dream of a better, more equitable America.

ArapahoeAlyson Jan 04, 2021

Great historical fiction with engaging characters and a very different look at the West. Mining, unions and industry are the focus here.

w
WeBeYYC
Dec 26, 2020

Wash Post article

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mdawnott
Dec 07, 2020

I picked up this book because of Jess Walter. I loved Beautiful Ruins and, based on that, I knew I would read his next book. Because here's the thing: I would never pick up a novel about labor battles in early 20th century Spokane. Even as I started reading this, I was apprehensive.

That apprehension only lasted a moment because I was immediately sucked in to this story. It's expansive with a wide cast of characters, with the brothers Rye and Gig in the forefront. Are they the main characters? It would not be incorrect to say so, but I think the true main character of this story is Spokane itself. I am slightly acquainted with Spokane, after spending a few nights there over the years as a stopover on road trips. But Jess Walter makes the young city jump off the pages here, with colorful characters and vivid descriptions. Like any strong character, Spokane is dynamic, changing and growing as the story progresses.

As for those labor battles? They weren't as dry and dull as I had expected. They were also surprisingly applicable to a world hundred years later. The battles may have been won or lost in this story, but as one character tells another, the war will last on. Walter makes that chillingly clear.

All in all, this was a wonderful read and one that I would recommend to just about anyone.

LPL_DirectorBrad Nov 16, 2020

Jess Walters, amazing as always. At first, I wasn't thrilled about reading 'historical fiction' but damn, this book jumped right into my hands and I couldn't put it down. Great characters, great writing. All the things you come to expect from Jess Walter. A superb fictional account of the Wobblies, back when Spokane was a bigger deal than Seattle. Highly recommended!

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Oct 30, 2020

lthough this is only Jess Walter's second novel I have read, he has found the spot reserved for authors whose every novel I want to read in my literary heart, so I have just added some of his other books to my list for reading. It's mainly that the prose is so impeccable that I'm tempted to read those phrases again so that I can feel the wow feeling again. It's also because this is historical fiction at its finest, reimagining a time, a place, events that actually occurred with a cast of characters, some true and some fictitious, the truthful and the crooked, some adamant about a cause, some driven by greed, some only wanting a home, a simple life, but all of them elicited an emotional reaction from me. No more than one of the main characters, sixteen-year - old Ryan Dolan. It's one of those novels that gives so much-a wonderful novel that in some respects represents a piece of history, a coming of age tale. It's full of characters and affection that captivate. Final rating 3.9/5 @Barcelonafan1 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

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