ANYWHERE BUT SCHUYLKILL is the first novel by Marshall Law. It takes place in the anthracite coal fields of eastern Pennsylvania during the turbulent 1870s. It is the story of Mike Doyle, a teenager trying to keep his family alive during the worst depression the nation has ever faced. Banks and railroads are going under. Children are dying of hunger. Yet, somehow, the Reading Railroad has managed to buy up all the collieries. They’ve slashed wages, laid off workers, and hired Pinkerton spies to infiltrate the miners’ union. And there is a sectarian war between the Modocs, a Welsh gang, and the Kohinoor Boys, an Irish gang. But none of this compares with the threat at home, from Uncle Sean, a bitter, violent drunk, who resents having to care for his sister in-law’s brats.
Mike knows he must do something drastic. It’s only a matter of time before his uncle kills one of them in a drunken rage. But he doesn’t earn enough for his siblings to go to school, let alone move them all out of Uncle Sean’s house. So, he comes up with a plan. It’s sinister and dangerous. He might get arrested. Or worse.
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Marshall Law also likes to write about labor history and culture. You can read some of his writing on these topics on his blog. And you can learn more about the life of anthracite miners in the 1870s by visiting Marshall’s World.