This stunning novel is more than a moving story of love and human struggle, more than a faithful account of a watershed event in United States history. It is a layered and dynamic revelation of late nineteenth-century Chicago, and of the lives of a handful of remarkable individuals who were willing to risk their lives for the promise of social change.
On the night of May 4, 1886, during a peaceful demonstration of labor activists in Haymarket Square in Chicago, a dynamite bomb was thrown into the ranks of police trying to disperse the crowd. The officers immediately opened fire, killing a number of protesters and wounding some two-hundred others. At a time of bitter class war and a groundswell of working-class radicalism, the Haymarket Riot produced a wave of hysteria across the nation, leading to the trial and hanging of the leaders of the anarchist/socialist movement.
Albert Parsons was the best-known of those hanged; Haymarket is his story. Parsons, humanist and autodidact, was an ex-Confederate soldier who grew up in Texas in the 1870s, and fell in love with Lucy Gonzalez, a vibrant, outspoken black woman who preferred to describe herself as of Spanish and Creole descent. The novel tells the story of their lives together, of their growing political involvement, of the formation of a colorful circle of "co-conspirators"—immigrants, radical intellectuals, journalists, advocates of the working class—and of the events culminating in bloodshed.