Customer Reviews for

Coal: A Human History

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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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2006

    Title misleading

    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.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2003

    Enjoyable and informative

    An interesting and well-researched book. The author's engaging, readable style makes the book a real gem.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2014

    Thoroughly enjoyable look at the development of the world's depe

    Thoroughly enjoyable look at the development of the world's dependence on coal and coal's role in the industrial revolution. The use of coal as a heat and energy source meant less reliance on wood and increased energy output, but it also meant dreadful pollution, dangerous working conditions, child labor, and early death. As a fuel, coal proved to be both a blessing and curse, and Freese's highly readable exploration of the subject is both informative and entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2010

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