Break Their Haughty Power: Joe Murphy in the Heyday of the Wobblies
by Eugene Nelson
A biographical novel by Eugene Nelson – Joe Murphy, chased out of his Missouri hometown by anti-Catholic bigots, hopped aboard a freight train and headed west for the wheat harvest. Within weeks, the 13-year-old Joe became a labor activist and organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or "Wobblies"). Eugene Nelson, a longtime friend of Joe Murphy, recounts many labor and free-speech struggles through the eyes of "Kid Murphy." The Wobblies built a dynamic mass movement, and this biographical novel relates Murphy's adventures in the wheat fields, lumber camps, and on the high seas. Historical events include the 1919 Centralia massacre in Washington state; the Colorado coal miners' strike of 1927; and the 1931 strike by workers building Boulder Dam. Nelson also relates the young Murphy's reflections on meeting Helen Keller, Eugene Debs, and Bill Haywood.