Monongahela Dusk (Autumn House Press, 2009) is a historical novel of the 1930s and 1940s set in McKeesport, one of the largest of the legendary steel-producing towns of the Monongahela Valley. In 1937, as labor turmoil sweeps across western Pennsylvania, traveling beer salesman Pete Bonner drives south from McKeesport on a sales trip. He picks up hitchhiker Joe Miravich, a blacklisted coal miner running from the law. The two overhear a plot to kill a national union leader in Pittsburgh and warn the intended victim only to become targets of the man who ordered the assassination, a mysterious industrialist who conspires with racketeers to control mill-town politics.
Downtown McKeesport, 1950s
Over the next dozen years Bonner becomes a prosperous businessman in McKeesport.Miravich rises to union president in the local steel mill, where management and labor struggle over divisive issues. The two men form an unlikely alliance to defend themselves against sporadic attacks by political enemies. As the town moves from Depression to postwar prosperity, their lives are depicted in work and family scenes of middle-and-working-class life, exposing deep racial and class divisions. A violent showdown reveals the exploitative nature of the economic and political powers that would, forty years later, turn the mill towns of the Monongahela Valley into blighted relics of the industrial era.
With vivid illustrations by Bill Yund.
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Autumn House Press
87-1/2 Westwood St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15211