A Hard Journey brings to life Don West: poet, ordained Congregationalist minister, labor organizer, educator, leftist activist, and one of the most important literary and political figures in the southern Appalachians during the middle years of the twentieth century. Initially motivated by religious conviction and driven by a vision of an open, democratic, and nonracist society, West was also a passionate advocate for the region's traditional values.
This biography balances his literary work with political and educational activities, placing West's poetry in the context of his fight for social justice and racial equality. James J. Lorence uses previously unexamined sources to explore West's early involvement in organizing miners and other workers for the Socialist and Communist Parties during the 1930s. In documenting West's lifetime commitment to creating a nonracist, egalitarian South, A Hard Journey furnishes the spotlight he deserves as a pioneering figure in twentieth-century Southern radicalism.