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Publisher's Summary

A Most Anticipated Book by: 

  • The New York Times Book Review
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Time
  • Esquire
  • The Millions
  • Vogue
  • People
  • New York Post
  • USA Today
  • Medium
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Newsday

From the number one New York Times best-selling author of Beautiful Ruins comes another “literary miracle” (NPR) - a propulsive, richly entertaining novel about two brothers swept up in the turbulent class warfare of the early 20th century.

An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early 20th-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams. 

The Dolans live by their wits, jumping freight trains and lining up for day work at crooked job agencies. While 16-year-old Rye yearns for a steady job and a home, his older brother, Gig, dreams of a better world, fighting alongside other union men for fair pay and decent treatment. Enter Ursula the Great, a vaudeville singer who performs with a live cougar and introduces the brothers to a far more dangerous creature: a mining magnate determined to keep his wealth and his hold on Ursula.

Dubious of Gig’s idealism, Rye finds himself drawn to a fearless 19-year-old activist and feminist named Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. But a storm is coming, threatening to overwhelm them all, and Rye will be forced to decide where he stands. Is it enough to win the occasional battle, even if you cannot win the war?

Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, The Cold Millions is a tour de force from a “writer who has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors” (Boston Globe). 

©2020 Jess Walter (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

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What listeners say about The Cold Millions

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Story ....Hard to follow on Audio

Enjoyed the story. Learned some interesting history about the labor movement in the 1900s. The problem was trying to follow all of the characters on audio. Interesting story, but didn’t flow on audio. The use of different narrators was distracting as they were of various quality.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An extraordinary work of historical fiction

If you are looking for a window into a time when the rule of law was used to suppress workers and also used to support a clueless wealthy class, look no further. Like all great works of historical fiction, The Cool Millions illuminates a forgotten world and shines a bright spotlight on our own. Its themes and characters are as relevant today as the daily news feeds. Replace Wobblies with Antifa and Black Lives Matter and you get the sense that the struggle for justice never ends.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Another tumultuous time

This is an engaging story of another era of political turmoil, haves and have nots. The narration was excellent. The characters were somewhat melodramatic but became more engaging as the story unfolds. I found myself comparing the situations in the book to current day politics, social upheavals, and economic realities. Highly recommend

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Worthy Successor to Wallace Stegner

One Amazon reviewer was reminded of Steinbeck. I found The Cold Millions even more reminiscent of Wallace Stegner's Joe Hill or Angle of Repose. The events in 1909 Spokane, Washington read like contemporary life — an oligarchy of wealthy industrialists, a huge divide between the rich and poor, civil unrest, the fight for equality and free speech, police corruption, even a wildfire that burns 3 million acres and wipes whole towns off the map. Some things apparently never change. The struggle seems perpetual. Some readers will be put off by the number of points-of-view (including narration by the dead), and that does slow the pace substantially. But I thought that it was a bold artistic choice and added to the richness of the story. My only complaint is the almost complete lack of humor. Of course, the events weren't funny, but a good sense of the absurd would have helped. Finally, a shout-out to the narrators of the audiobook, who helped bring the characters to life.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating and well told historical fiction

The book started out slowly and dark but as the characters became more developed I found myself with a vested interest in their well-being. This period of time in history is fascinating and Well represented in the story.

2 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written story, wonderful performance

This is one of the few books that I probably enjoyed more listening to on audio instead of reading the book directly. The performances were wonderful, and I enjoyed the occasional change of performer with the changes of character point-of-view. Each performer had an authentic voice, as if they were truly telling you their story, not reading it from a page. The story was beautifully written and unique, and unfolded in its own time. The themes were thought-provoking, yet very subtle. Enjoyable!

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Meh

Weak storyline. After 10 hours of listening I couldn’t root for any character. I was expecting more and received way less.