In 1927, the year slight, greying Josephine Roche became heir to the minority interest of her late conservative father, John J. Roche, in the Rocky Mountain Fuel Co., blood was spilled on another page of the grim history of Colorado's mine wars. To Vassar-educated Miss Roche, who had spent 19 years as a social worker, that was bitter: six diggers had been killed in a strike riot within sight of the gaunt tipple of Rocky Mountain Fuel's Columbine mine.

Long an outspoken opponent of the nonunion policy of the Colorado coal field, she got ready to fight it. Within a few...

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