Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War

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Overview

Killing for Coal offers a bold and original perspective on the 1914 Ludlow Massacre and the "Great Coalfield War". In a sweeping story of transformation that begins in the coal beds and culminates with the deadliest strike in American history, Thomas Andrews illuminates the causes and consequences of the militancy that erupted in colliers' strikes over the course of nearly half a century.

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Editorial Reviews

Denver Post

A groundbreaking work about coal and coal development, labor relations and class conflict.
— Sandra Dallas

Pop Matters
Thomas G. Andrews' Killing for Coal offers an intriguing analysis of the so-called Ludlow Massacre of April 20, 1914, a watershed event in American labor history that he illuminates with a new understanding of the complexity of this conflict...Killing for Coal distinguishes itself from conventional labor histories, by going beyond sociological factors to look at the total physical environment--what Andrews calls the "workscape"--and the role it played in the lives of both labor and management...In its deft marriage of natural and social history, Killing for Coal sets a new standard for how the history of industry can and should be written.
— Emily F. Popek
Denver Westword
A stunning debut, full of insight into the role of labor and class not just in southern Colorado, but across the country.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Andrews brings a 21st-century approach to this once-troubled landscape where the region's voracious need for fuel trumped the rights and independence of the men who dragged it out of the ground.
— Bob Hoover

Dissent

Killing for Coal is far more than a blow-by-blow account of America's deadliest labor war. It is an environmental history that seeks to explain strike violence as the natural excretion of an industry that brutalized the earth and the men who worked beneath it. Andrews is one of the excellent young scholars who have given new life to the field of labor and working-class studies by introducing new questions about race and gender, ethnicity and nationality, and new insights drawn from anthropology and physical geography...Andrews deserves credit for writing one of the best books ever published on the mining industry and its environmental impact and for drawing more public attention to the Ludlow story and its significance.
— James Green

Choice

Andrews does an excellent job of placing the massacre in the larger context of both previous labor strife in the area and the violent reprisals that armed bands of miners launched on mine owners, strikebreakers, and militia men in response to the deaths at Ludlow. One of the great strengths of Andrews's account is his integration of environmental history into his narrative at all levels, and not just as an afterthought. The book is as much a history of coal, coal mining, and the reshaping of Colorado's environment as it is a history of the Great Coalfield War of 1914.
— A. M. Berkowitz

PopMatters

Thomas G. Andrews' Killing for Coal offers an intriguing analysis of the so-called Ludlow Massacre of April 20, 1914, a watershed event in American labor history that he illuminates with a new understanding of the complexity of this conflict...Killing for Coal distinguishes itself from conventional labor histories, by going beyond sociological factors to look at the total physical environment—what Andrews calls the "workscape"—and the role it played in the lives of both labor and management...In its deft marriage of natural and social history, Killing for Coal sets a new standard for how the history of industry can and should be written.
— Emily F. Popek

William Cronon
The Ludlow Massacre of 1914 has long been known as one of the most notorious events in all of American labor history, but until the publication of Killing for Coal, it was still possible to see this slaughter simply as an episode in the history of American industrial violence. In Thomas Andrews's skilled hands, it becomes something much subtler, more complicated, and revealing: a window onto the profound transformation of work and environment that occurred on the Western mining frontier in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Anyone interested in the history of labor, the environment, and the American West will want to read this book.
Kathryn Morse
Killing for Coal is a stunning achievement. Beautifully written and masterfully researched, it stands as the definitive history of the dramatic events at Ludlow and breaks new ground in our understanding of industrialization and the environment. If I were to pick one word to describe this book, I would say, "powerful."
Patricia Nelson Limerick
Killing for Coal arises from the rare and providential convergence of an extraordinary author and an extraordinary topic. With a perfect instinct for the telling detail, Thomas Andrews wields a matching talent for conveying, in crystal-clear prose, the deepest meanings of history. This is, in every sense, an illuminating book, shining light into a dark terrain of the American past and of the human soul.
Denver Post - Sandra Dallas
A groundbreaking work about coal and coal development, labor relations and class conflict.
PopMatters - Emily F. Popek
Thomas G. Andrews' Killing for Coal offers an intriguing analysis of the so-called Ludlow Massacre of April 20, 1914, a watershed event in American labor history that he illuminates with a new understanding of the complexity of this conflict...Killing for Coal distinguishes itself from conventional labor histories, by going beyond sociological factors to look at the total physical environment--what Andrews calls the "workscape"--and the role it played in the lives of both labor and management...In its deft marriage of natural and social history, Killing for Coal sets a new standard for how the history of industry can and should be written.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Bob Hoover
Andrews brings a 21st-century approach to this once-troubled landscape where the region's voracious need for fuel trumped the rights and independence of the men who dragged it out of the ground.
Dissent - James Green
Killing for Coal is far more than a blow-by-blow account of America's deadliest labor war. It is an environmental history that seeks to explain strike violence as the natural excretion of an industry that brutalized the earth and the men who worked beneath it. Andrews is one of the excellent young scholars who have given new life to the field of labor and working-class studies by introducing new questions about race and gender, ethnicity and nationality, and new insights drawn from anthropology and physical geography...Andrews deserves credit for writing one of the best books ever published on the mining industry and its environmental impact and for drawing more public attention to the Ludlow story and its significance.
Choice - A. M. Berkowitz
Andrews does an excellent job of placing the massacre in the larger context of both previous labor strife in the area and the violent reprisals that armed bands of miners launched on mine owners, strikebreakers, and militia men in response to the deaths at Ludlow. One of the great strengths of Andrews's account is his integration of environmental history into his narrative at all levels, and not just as an afterthought. The book is as much a history of coal, coal mining, and the reshaping of Colorado's environment as it is a history of the Great Coalfield War of 1914.
Choice
Andrews does an excellent job of placing the massacre in the larger context of both previous labor strife in the area and the violent reprisals that armed bands of miners launched on mine owners, strikebreakers, and militia men in response to the deaths at Ludlow. One of the great strengths of Andrews's account is his integration of environmental history into his narrative at all levels, and not just as an afterthought. The book is as much a history of coal, coal mining, and the reshaping of Colorado's environment as it is a history of the Great Coalfield War of 1914.
— A. M. Berkowitz
Denver Post
A groundbreaking work about coal and coal development, labor relations and class conflict.
— Sandra Dallas
Dissent
Killing for Coal is far more than a blow-by-blow account of America's deadliest labor war. It is an environmental history that seeks to explain strike violence as the natural excretion of an industry that brutalized the earth and the men who worked beneath it. Andrews is one of the excellent young scholars who have given new life to the field of labor and working-class studies by introducing new questions about race and gender, ethnicity and nationality, and new insights drawn from anthropology and physical geography...Andrews deserves credit for writing one of the best books ever published on the mining industry and its environmental impact and for drawing more public attention to the Ludlow story and its significance.
— James Green
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Andrews brings a 21st-century approach to this once-troubled landscape where the region's voracious need for fuel trumped the rights and independence of the men who dragged it out of the ground.
— Bob Hoover
The Barnes & Noble Review
Out where the Rocky Mountain foothills stretch onto the Great Plains in windswept southern Colorado lies a forlorn, ramshackle pile of boards, the ghost town of Ludlow. Near it the United Mine Workers maintains a monument. Beyond the obelisk lies a heavy metal door on the ground; when opened, it leads down to a dank vault that gives off every sensation of a crypt. Though not a mausoleum, strictly speaking, it is an effective and chilling memorial to the April 1914 catastrophe now known as the Ludlow Massacre, when two women and 11 children seeking protection in makeshift cellars died of asphyxiation after the tents above them burst into flames. The fires resulted from an attack on a striking miners' encampment by a Colorado National Guard contingent composed largely of hired guns of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr. "Little children roasted alive" was mineworker organizer Mother Jones's angry summary. In Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War, historian Thomas G. Andrews takes us underground in unanticipated ways, beneath the surface of this familiar story. Informed by ecological sensibilities, Andrews reaches back to the formation of coal deposits in earlier millennia. He details the extensive but now-forgotten Ten Days' War -- a stunning workers' insurrection in the coalfields that ensued after Ludlow -- and reaches even farther forward in time to our own epoch of climate change. Guided by impressive alertness to the consequences of economies predicated on fossil fuels, Andrews resituates an episode in labor martyrdom within a transformative history of the American West and industrial development, along the way imparting new meaning both to Ludlow and to burnings originating from beneath the surface of the earth. --Christopher Phelps
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674046917
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2010
  • Pages: 408
  • Sales rank: 163,521
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas G. Andrews is Associate Professor of History at the University of Colorado Boulder.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Introduction: Civil War, Red and Bloody l

1 A Dream of Coal-Fired Benevolence 20

2 The Reek of the New Industrialism 50

3 Riding the Wave to Survive an Earth Transformed 87

4 Dying with Their Boots On 122

5 Out of the Depths and on to the March 157

6 The Quest for Containment 197

7 Shouting the Battle Cry of Union 233

Epilogue 287

Abbreviations 293

Notes 295

Acknowledgments 371

Index 377

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