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Originally appearing at: Booklist

* The 2010 tragedy at the Upper Big Branch Mine resonated nationwide and has resulted in a great deal of soul-searching among Americans over the price paid for our dependence on "Big Coal." Galuszka, who grew up in coal country and has written extensively on the subject, peers deeply into the corporate culture at Massey Energy and the permissive local and national politics behind their flagrant safety-rule violations. While the in-depth profile of Massey and former CEO Don Blankenship are interesting enough, Galuszka strays far beyond the expected accident narrative and into the economics of those who call Central Appalachia home, noting that, contrary to popular belief, only 2 percent of direct employment there is "related to mining." He discusses the targeted destruction of unions by Massey and the coal industry's successful century-long suppression of the area's middle class, which has relegated the region to devastating generational poverty. Beyond the mining catastrophe at its core, this is a book about working America and how one industry has conquered a landscape's body and soul. Bracing, powerful, and pertinent, this is a timely and clarion call for myth-busting change.


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