Gastonia 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike by John A. Salmond (review)

Gastonia 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike by John A. Salmond (University of North Carolina Press, 1995)

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Gastonia 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike by John A. Salmond (review)

by Michelle Brattain
Southern Cultures, Vol. 3, No. 4: Winter 1997

University of North Carolina Press, 1995

In the preface to Gastonia 1929, John Salmond describes his purpose as “simply to tell the story of the events of 1929,” but this book, an elegantly crafted and insightful synthesis, defies such a modest description. Although Salmond provides no new overarching thesis, the work reflects the author’s research into new archival and oral history sources, an exhaustive survey of both the radical and mainstream press, and the best of recent scholarship on southern labor history. Judiciously argued and thorough, Salmond’s retelling of the story from the perspective of the organizers, the workers, the press, and numerous contemporaries, with the benefit of sixty-plus years of hindsight, casts new light onto such contemporary historical subjects as race, class, gender, communism, and religion in the Bible Belt. Beautifully written, it is also, above all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.