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Posted October 25, 2008
Superb book for understanding the historical dependence on coal and why it is so hard to stop using it...
I found this book to be fascinating. As a historian, Barbara Freese did a fantastic job of explaining the discovery of coal, its early use and explaining how that evolved into the comtemporary ways that it is utilized for energy. In her history, she brings in all relevant topics, such as the conditions of workers, the perspective of prospectors and industry, and environmentalists. All necessary components for an in-depth historical and analytical look at the world's dependence on coal. I find that her final chapter on the modern coal industry is rather fair. She could have easily been imbalanced in discussing this, either more in line with conservationists or the industry, but in fact, it was a perfect explanation of how coal is used today, and the current discussion surrounding coal today, which is how to make it cleaner to use. That doesn't make her a conservationist, as another reviewer stated, but rather an informed writer who is bringing all relevant topics on the matter to the forefront.<BR/><BR/>After reading this book, it makes you understand how the world could not help becoming dependent on coal, especially as that dependence grew over centuries without the knowledge of its damaging effects. It makes any one interested in this topic realize that this is an issue that requires not just high passions, but well thought out policies to bring about change.
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Posted June 9, 2006
I thought this book--per its title Coal: A Human History--would provide more stories and information about the lives of individual coal miners. Instead, it was an economic/political history of coal and its development. It might be useful for a high school class to read to learn about the history of coal. But for a general reader, it was not terribly interesting.
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Posted December 26, 2003
Posted February 19, 2010
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