While reading this book, I couldn’t help but wonder how future historians will view the politics of mining in our own era. Many of the controversies Green discusses remain alive today. As mining disasters at Sago and Upper Branch, as well as the indictment of former Massey Energy Company CEO Don Blankenship demonstrate, the question of mine safety has not been settled. Nor have concerns about the environmental impact of mining, particularly that over mountain top removal. While it’s clear we’ve come a long way from the era Green discusses, it would appear we still have a long way to go.
I would recommend The Devil is Here in These Hills to anyone with an interest in American history, mining, or Appalachian studies. James Green has written an enlightening, accessible tome that should become the standard history of mining unionization in America.