by Dwight Harshbarger
1930: the Great Depression. Twenty-five cent an hour jobs attract thousands of men to West Virginia, two-thirds of them black, to drill Union Carbide's Hawks Nest tunnel through near-solid rock. Within months, men fall ill and die of a mysterious illness tunnelitis company doctors call it. Lacking respiratory protection, at least 800, possibly over 1,500, workers will die of acute silicosis in America's worst industrial disaster. Orville Orr, a company-paid deputy sheriff secures the first autopsy of a tunnel worker and builds evidence of the company's responsibility for the deaths. Armen, the mixed-race daughter of a tunnel worker and union organizer who has died of silicosis, joins him and they fall in love, as Orville risks his life to expose the truth.
Dwight Harshbarger captures the destruction during the digging of Hawks Nest tunnel of well over 700 lives workers who fell victim to undiagnosed silicosis and the cover-up of the tragedy by Union Carbide. I wish all West Virginia citizens would read this important book. --Joseph Wyatt, Professor of Psychology, Marshall University
In the plain-spoken language of the people he writes about, Dwight Harshbarger has written a compelling tale of disaster and injustice. Harshbarger's respect for history and for the common man shines through in Witness at Hawks Nest. What the book reveals is shocking and deeply relevant to our discussion of America's future in the twenty-first century. --David Huddle, author of Paper Boy, Only the Little Bone and Glory River
Witness at Hawks Nest is a welcome addition to literature about the horrific incident. Harshbarger gives faces and voices to the victims the men who dug the Hawks Nest tunnel and fell victim to one of the worst industrial disasters in the nation, and the families who loved them. --Denis Giardina, author of Storming Heaven and The Unquiet Earth
About the author:
Dwight Harshbarger is a native West Virginian. He is the author of two previous novels, In the Heart of the Hills: A Novel in Stories, 2005, and the award winning Witness at Hawks Nest, 2009. Dwight holds a Ph.D. in psychology. He has served as a professor of psychology and professor of public health at West Virginia University, and as executive director of the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Center for Behavioral Studies. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. Dwight has served as a senior executive in two corporations and has done extensive organizational consulting in the USA and Asia. He is currently an adjunct professor of public health at West Virginia University.