Childhood innocence and political ambition meet just prior to the First World War in the person of Harry Shaughnessy, an Oklahoma farmer’s son. Gifted with a booming speaking voice and a charismatic presence, the boy learns the socialist credo from his father, who takes him on the road, from laborer’s camps to county fairs to Oklahoma City. Daugherty seamlessly integrates historical figures-Eugene Debs, Oscar Ameringer, Kate O’Hare-into the compelling fictionalized tale of his own real-life grandfather’s struggles for American workers and his inevitable disillusionment with the defeat of the socialist cause.
“Tracy Daugherty is one of the best young writers living in the American West, and The Boy Orator is that rare thing, a first-rate novel which takes us behind the sweet facades to reveal the political workings of our culture.”
“The Boy Orator is a classic American character. Mark Twain would love him. So do I.”
“Daugherty’s story is immediately engaging. His sure, fresh details ring true; his descriptions bend language to the shapes of his landscape. He is not content with merely the sense of history, but rather, his story becomes the experience of living through the Oklahoma of an earlier time.”