Hard Journey

Author: James J. Lorence

A hard Journey is the first comprehensive biography of Don West, poet, ordained Congregational minister, labor organizer, educator, leftist activist, and one of the most important literary and political figures in the southern Appalachians during the middle years of the twentieth century. Motivated by radical and religious convictions and driven by a vison of an open, democratic, and non-racist society, West was also a passionate advocate for the region’s traditional values.

James J. Lorence’s biography balances West’s literary work with political and educational activities. Uncovering the ethical and religious roots of West’s militant antifascism, Lorence uses previously unexamined sources to explore his early involvement in organizing miners and other workers for Socialist and Communist Parties during the 1930. In detailing West’s participation in the Communist Party and founding role in the Highlander Folk School and other training grounds for radically cooperative, democratic ways of living, Lorence also describes West’s lifelong commitment to defending mountain culture and his advocacy on behalf of exploited workers and rural poor. In documenting West’s lifetime commitment to creating a nonracist, egalitarian south, A Hard Journey confirms West’s stature as a pioneering figure in twentieth-century southern radicalism

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