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Red Helmet

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  480 ratings  ·  79 reviews
With his past series of books set in Coalwood, West Virginia, New York Times best-selling author Homer Hickam won the praise of critics around the world and the devotion of legions of fans. Now, he returns to his beloved coalfields, not as they were fifty years ago, but today. In this hauntingly beautiful and romantic novel, he brings alive the little Appalachian town of H ...more
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Published August 28th 2008 by Oasis Audio (first published 2008)
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I saw this book in a store in my recent vacation in West Virginia and was looking forward to it -- a story set in a modern West Virginia coal mining town. I'd read about historic coal mining and was curious what it's like today. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of the worst books I've encountered in a long time, to the point that I wonder how and why it was published, especially by a well-regarded author. The premise of the story is that a coal mining superintendent meets and has a whirl ...more
Emily Michelle
I read this book because when I picked it up at the library and read the blurb--"Her helmet says she's clueless about coal mining. She knows even less about love."--I thought that surely it had to be a joke. Turns out it's not.

The novel is set in the hills of West Virginia and deals with the romantic entanglements of a tough-as-nails New York businesswoman and a ruggedly handsome mine superintendent. It's a fairly implausible premise, unless it's for a dime-store romance novel, but I don't think
Caity P

First off, I would like to say I am not a fan of nonfiction books at all. They are hard for me to get into. The first 3/4 of this book was uninteresting to me. It was very well-written, but I just dislike nonfiction. If I gave it four stars, that means a lot for a nonfiction book. I chose this book because I needed to read two nonfiction books for the semester requirements. When I got to about 1/4 of the book left, it got so good. There had to have been about five times it made me
I was surprised and disappointed. I expected better from this author. The characters were not believable and the storyline was basically just plain old silly. These two supposedly intelligent people get married after knowing each other for six months and, truly, they don't know each other at all.

And, maybe they do things differently in that area of West Virginia but, in my entire lifetime, I've heard maybe a couple people say "I swan" about anything and then not the quantity nor in the context
Matthew Perry
I have sat and digested this book the best that I can. First off it is not by any stretch my favorite Hickam book I like all the Thurlow and Coalwood books better, with that being said though this book was still a very interesting read. I did not particualrly like either main character maybe thats my own fault just didn't like the personality of either Song or Cable. This book starts off with almost strictly a love story through roughly the first 10 chapters then it gets interesting. This is whe ...more
May 04, 2014 Jerry rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mining fanatics (ONLY!)
This book was supposed to be Christian fiction, had were at least six outright profanities and some rather bawdy references to sex. Even beyond that, the character of Song was just not all that likable. Like many fictional protagonists, she realizes the error of her ways by the book's end, but it's not all that believable; she goes from being strong-willed to a complete pushover for her husband. Even the opening sequence--a woman answering a business call at her wedding--is just plain r ...more
I loved this book! I think it would be a good book club book.
I am, admittedly, a sucker for memoirs. I wondered as I picked up this book, however, if a book written by a rocket scientist could be that good. It was! Homer (Sonny) Hickham has written the story of his life as he discovered rockets, and Coalwood (the town where he grew up) so that it reads like a novel. It captures perfectly the voice of a teenage boy growing up in a small mining town during the space race. There is a bit of teenage boy language and interest in girls. I was delighted by his m ...more
Valerie Patterson
This is an excellent book! I had it sitting on my "to-be-read" shelf for more than a year before I finally began reading it. Once I started, I couldn't put it down, and in fact read it in one sitting!

Hickman does a superb job pulling the reader right into the thick of things. His characters are so well crafted, you want to meet them!

Hickman's knowledge of mining and the plight of the miner seals the deal, making this a book of a collaborative effort of both fact and fiction.

Song--the heroine--is
I've had this book on my to-read shelf for a long time and haven't gotten around to it, mostly because my local library does not carry it. I bought it for my Kindle for a plane trip.

I like Homer Hickam and especially Rocket Boy. Knowing that he grew up in a coal mining town and his father worked in the mine made me expect that this would be great. The coal mining parts were great, very realistic and I learned a lot about coal mining and coal miners. Unfortunately, the character Song comes across
Song and Cable marry on a romantic holiday, but their relationship falls apart when they get back to real life. Cable isn't willing to leave his small home town of Highcoal, West Virginia, where he is the superintendant of the local coal mine, and Song isn't willing to leave her job as head of acquisitions for her father's New York company. Song decides to annul the marriage after a disasterous trip to Highcoal, but a mining accident and a slightly manipulative father take her back to the town, ...more
I am so sad about this book. This was my first Home Hickam book - which by the way I had been pronouncing hickman for years- a fellow west virginian. At first I was all too excited when he began to describe west virginia, when he spoke of the wonderous mountains and the green pines. But slowly things began to fall apart. This book turned into an awkward 'love story' of every last detail in a coal mine operation. Some insight was great, as I am a coal lover (mountains more, it's ironic) and Hicka ...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Red Helmet is the only book I've read by Homar Hickham, and although it is fairly interesting in its way--how many books are there about the lives of modern-day West Virginia coal miners?--it didn't live up to my expectations.

The book is divided into 3 parts: Part 1 sets up the marriage between a rich New York City businesswoman and a West Virginia mine manager, showing just how out-of-place she is in his world; Part 2 details her adventures in trying to become a coal miner (the "red helmet" of
Mar 22, 2008 Carol rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Very good read. I learned a lot about coal mining. Having lived in West Virgnina all my life, I know very little about coal mining and coal mining towns. All the miners in this book had nicknames. I have no idea whether or not this is true. I have heard the expression "I swan" when I was a child. It was said by older people in the small community where I grew up but I have not heard it in many years. In this book, Sonny Hickam uses it more times than I can count. He used it in his other books, t ...more
I enjoy Homer Hickman's writing and had purchased this book about a year ago, but tucked in on the shelf. As I was preparing for my East Coast trip, I grabbed it to read on the plane. It seemed the perfect story to be reading as the recent WV Coalmining disaster in Montcoal had just occured.

Caleb "Cable" Jordan, the superintendent of a WV coal mine, falls in love with Song Hawkins,the daughter of one of the richest men in the US. They meet while each is vacationing on the island of St. John. Ca
About two years ago I really bought this book on a whim, because I thought the cover was pretty. Not realy knowing what is was about I picked it up three days ago to finally get it off my shelf. I did not expect anything from this book, particularly because the subject, coal mining, is something I know nothing about, and usually does not interest me very much. The first few chapters were slow and I really thought it was going to take me ages to finish this but, with the beginning of part two (th ...more
Victor Davis
Best feel-good read I've had the pleasure of curling up with in a while. Fast-paced, believable, easy to read, and well-structured, this will pull you into a teenager's wonder, his flaws and disappointments. His arc is well-defined and he deftly captures scientific fascination as a natural human emotion.
Song Hawkins is a beautiful, tough, but lonely New York City businesswoman who thinks she's met the man of her dreams in Cable Jordan, the superintendent of a West Virginia coal mine. But soon after they impulsively marry, Song realizes they're in big trouble. She can't imagine life outside of New York, and Cable has no intention of leaving his beloved town of Highcoal.

Song's visit to the little mining community only makes things worse. It looks like the marriage is over. But in a shocking turn
Angela Cyrus
I loved this book. I usually read mystery/suspense books, but the reviews on this book were very good and my dad and husband work in the coal mines so I bought it. I think that anyone who has a husband or family member who works in the coal mines should read this. I didn't realize what my husband goes through everyday when he leaves the house to go to work, but reading this book made me realize how hard he works to take care of us and that when he leaves for work each day there is a possibility ...more
Beth Mitchell
Hickham knows West Virginia, and he did a great job of detailing the coal mines. Not sure how to categorize it, it's sorta romance, but the love story is the weakest part of the book.
Made me homesick.
Red Helmet was an entertaining read. It was slow at times, but by the second half of the book it picked up. I believe I found this in the Christian section of the bookstore, I think a lot of people have a problem because there are some sexual moments in it and a few profanities. That didn't bother me, and I understand why it was labeled under the Christian section. These miners spend a great deal of time in a dangerous environment and rely on the help of God to get them through their shifts. All ...more
Margaret Garrett
Really good story. Romantic conflict becomes a murder mystery, business problem, background conflict, and coal mining lesson.
Not worthy of his previous Coalwood Way series; I was initially very disappointed in the first half of the book. I've very much enjoyed the first four books I'd read by him but this one felt like a run of the mill romance novel; at it's offset. Midway, the story became more focused; set against the West Virginia coal mines that Hickam knows viscerally. I'd say that the reproduction of his moving tribute to the victims of the Sago Mine disaster, that appears at the end of the book; is almost wort ...more
I do like to curl up with a book and learn something/go somewhere/understand something that I didn't before. This novel built around and Appalachian coal mining town and it's newcomer provided that. The story was interesting, and the place setting came to life,but the town of Highcoal and life in the mine were more compelling to me than the main plot line. Homer Hickman, author of Rocket Boys (a great movie), writes about the heart of America and the people and heroes that make our nation great. ...more
Oh, Homer... you really let me down with this one.
"Red Helmet" is very realistic and interesting. It contains enough description and factual information to satisfy my curiosity about coal mining. The characters are believable and in most cases, likeable. There are some crude comments, but this is part of the realism and is not contrived. My concerns arise from the spiritual content of the novel. It seems to me that a reader could read the book and finish confused as to the way to salvation. Mr. Hickam confronts and incorporates spirituality, bu ...more
Damena Mccoy
This was a nice read. I was able to incorporate much outside research for my students.
John Orman
Sputnik inspired Homer Hickam to attempt to send rockets into space from the backwoods of West Virginia. From scraps of metal he and his rocket gang built missiles that eventually touched the sky.

The Big Creek Missile Agency was that gang, and they propelled Homer to a win at the National Science Fair, and a grand display of rockets fired into the air, after many explosive failures.

Mr. Hickam served in the military in Vietnam, then had a long career with NASA, training astronauts.

An inspiring st
Spencer Hill
This is the first fiction I have read by Hickam. Its not Faulkner, but its not Danielle Steele either. To me its a story of place much like Conroy, Siddon, or Frank are to the SC low country. It made me home sick for the WV I grew up in and I could see the characters as people I knew. It also showed WV as not a bunch of hillbillies as portrayed on TV, but as thoughtful community of people with strong convictions.

I would strongly suggest that all displaced West Virginians to read this book to get
Sharon Ader
I liked the information I learned about coal mining. I believe that the miners and their families are very brave and courageous people. I really enjoyed reading the last couple of pages of the book which was the eulogy for the 13 coal miners that died in the Sago West Virginia disaster. BUT I didn't care for the fictional story. I didn't like the woman until she became a coal miner. This was a book I could have put down at any moment. It took me forever to read because I just didn't care.
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Homer Hickam (also known as Homer H. Hickam, Jr.) is probably best known for his award-winning memoir Rocket Boys which was adapted into the ever-popular movie October Sky. Mr. Hickam has been a coal miner, Vietnam combat veteran, scuba instructor, NASA engineer, and now a best-selling author. For more information, please go to
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