The Cold Millions
One of the most captivating novels of the year. - Washington Post
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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 Read More chevron_right
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How long is The Cold Millions?
The Cold Millions is 352 pages long.
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Book Reviews (1)
great historical fiction
By Patricia M , Aug 15, 2021
This book proves that I can’t necessarily judge an author by his previous work. I was not a huge fan of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, but this novel is completely different in a completely positive way. The primary characters are two brothers, Ryan (Rye) and Gregory (Gig) who ride the rails in the early 1900s to Spokane. They survive on whatever work they can find at a time when corrupt employment agencies are flourishing. The charismatic Gregory is the idealist, engaged in a fight for free speech at a union protest, and Ryan, only seventeen but the more practical of the two, idealizes Gregory and is willing to follow his older brother’s lead regardless of the consequences. This book is a rough-and-tumble adventure, complete with violence, bribery, and historical figures that I had never heard of. Ryan soon emerges as the principal character, attaching himself to the unlikely rabble-rouser Elizabeth Gurley Flynn while Gregory is either in jail or on the move. Flynn, a teenager herself and pregnant, has an oratory gift and the drive to use it in the struggle to achieve justice for workers. She’s not the only one who can turn a phrase, though. My favorite chapter is the first one narrated by Del Dalveaux, whose job it is to slow down Flynn’s efforts. He arrives in Spokane with these comments:
“I couldn’t believe how the syphilitic town had metastasized….The city was twice the size of the last time I’d hated being there. A box of misery spilled over the whole river valley.”
The author proves himself to be quite the wordsmith here, creating an atmosphere that reeks of tramps and trains in stark contrast to a wealthy man who poses as his own chauffeur--as sort of a joke that falls flat and doesn’t fool anyone. The epigraph for Part III is an appropriate Wallace Stegner quote, and this book is reminiscent of his novels about the growing pains of this country, particularly in the West.
Recommended to buy: Yes