Cover image for Coal : a memoir and critique
Coal : a memoir and critique
Lockard, Duane, 1921-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiv, 225 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TN805.A5 L63 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Duane Lockard's Coal is at once a historical account of mining--the explosions, slate falls, black lung, and floods--and a memoir of one family's involvement in it. Four generations of his family have worked in the mines, including Lockard himself, and his book interweaves family letters and diaries with firsthand interviews and literature on the industry to evoke a century's worth of mining and coal town life. Entwined in the personal story of this coal miner's son who became a Princeton political scientist is Lockard's critique of how the coal industry has behaved as a corporate citizen and how it exemplifies corporate power in American life.Although mining conditions are vastly improved from those fifty years ago, the picture Lockard paints is far from positive; he offers a detailed account of how corporations have pursued profits and corporate hegemony at the expense of their workers' health and the natural environment. Although fatalities have fallen to fewer than one hundred per year (as opposed to the thousands of fifty years ago), long-term health and environment problems persist: contaminated streams, polluted air, and the legacy of black lung disease. Just as devastating are the finacial repercussions for coal towns whose seams run dry.Lockard's observations about the behavior of coal corporations are informed not only by his family's long involvement with mining but also by the analytical tools honed in his distinguished career as a political scientist. In this multi-layered book, he shares with the reader both the immediacy of his own life experiences and the thoughtful results of many decades observing the exercise of corporate power in America.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This splendid small volume, of particular interest to students in history, economics, political science, and technology, relates so well to the social conditions of coal mining that it belongs in most academic and public library collections. Lockard (political science, Princeton) has written extensively on American politics. He now provides a unique and absorbing book that, as the subtitle suggests, combines a personal memoir of his family's involvement in coal mining with a penetrating critique of the coal corporations and their position in American life. Chapter topics indicate the book's significant breadth and relevant content: the political economy of coal, the productivity revolution, health and safety, the miner's way of life, coal miners and their union, and several chapters on the behavior of coal companies and the hegemony of corporations. Substantial chapter notes and an adequate index support the book's value as a reference source. Although a critical history of labor relations in the coal industry can be found in Curtis Seltzer's Fire in the Hole: Miners and Managers of the American Coal Industry (CH, Sept '85), Lockard provides a much broader social and political perspective. General readers; undergraduates through faculty. W. C. Peters; University of Arizona