Nonfiction Short Take: Grown-Up Anger- Daniel Wolff

Music, biography and labor history twine around Woody Guthrie’s song “1913 Massacre” as seemingly unrelated strands braid together to tell a new story about the progressive movement in 20th century America. In digging into the history of a labor strike on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a century ago, Wolff finds the roots of an abiding anger against social injustice that has passed through American generations and is finding a new voice today.

“In this bold and moving history, author and songwriter Wolff follows a path of memory and resistance through the labor struggles and music of 20th-century America. Wolff argues here that the mass murder of 74 men, women, and children (mine workers and members of their families—most of the victims were children) during a bitter strike in 1913 in Michigan reverberated through the careers of two remarkable American musicians…. Without surrendering insight or authority, Wolff spans a remarkable range of material, including 19th-century copper mining on the Upper Peninsula, the origins of folk out of traditional genres, and the ’60s counterculture. Wolff’s descriptions of Guthrie are particularly engaging, as are his forays into music criticism and labor history…. [In] a scathing finale that sends him to the postindustrial ghost town of Calumet, Wolff makes clear that by forgetting the past that Dylan and Guthrie passed down to us—and the injustices that motivated their art—we are in danger of losing our futures.”
Publishers Weekly

A masterful tale of music, social, and economic history… Wolff’s elegantly intertwined historical drama is consistently revelatory. A dazzling, richly researched story impeccably told.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“No matter how much you think you know about Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, you’re wrong… This is the best sense anyone has ever made about the connection between them, and the best reappraisal either has had in a couple of decades.”
— Dave Marsh

“Revolving around mining, music and murder, Daniel Wolff’s Grown-Up Anger explores the 1913 Calumet massacre in Michigan, Woody Guthrie’s political proselytizing beginning in the 1930’s and a young Bob Dylan, destined for musical greatness. Wolff’s narrative introduces “Mother” Ella Reeve Bloor, a revolutionary in labor circles and a witness to the Calumet & Hecla Mining Company Christmas catastrophe, where 73 people died. An angry Mother Bloor relays the devastating details to Woody Guthrie and the rest is a raging history of battling societal constraints through song. This is definitely a relevant read given the state of our current affairs.”
— Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, MI

Grown-Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of 1913 (9780062451699) By Daniel Wolff. $26.99 hardcover. 6/1/317 on sale.

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