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Gary KristShnayerson, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, takes on this environmental outrage with the muckraking zeal of a latter-day Upton Sinclair or Ida Tarbell. Focusing his narrative on what he considers the industry's worst offender—Massey Energy, the "biggest, most aggressive, and most hated of the coal companies" in the region—he shows how a very powerful corporation uses money and influence to ride roughshod over hard-won environmental laws. He also demonstrates how easily Big Coal has been able to manipulate government agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, turning those charged with conserving the landscape into accomplices in its destruction…Coal River, like the muckraking classics it emulates, may end up being most valuable as a call to arms.
—The Washington Post