The worst hard-rock mining disaster in American history began when fire broke out in the North Butte Mining Company’s Granite Mountain shaft. Sparked by a tragic accident more than two thousand feet below ground, the fire spewed flames, smoke, and poisonous gas through a labyrinth of tunnels. Within three days, 164 trapped miners were dead. While the disaster is compelling in its own right, this book also tells a broader story. Butte, Montana, on the eve of the North Butte disaster, was a volatile jumble of antiwar protest, an abusive corporate master, seething labor unrest, divisive ethnic tension, and radicalism both left and right. It was a powder keg lacking only a spark, and the mine fire would ignite strikes, murder, ethnic and political witch hunts, occupation by federal troops, and ultimately a battle over presidential power.–From publisher description.