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Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain

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They admire the ‘discipline’ of a miner who worked alongside a man who had broken the strike without addressing a single word to him.

These include the Senghenydd explosion of 1913 (440 dead) and the Gresford one of 1934 (266 dead), with bodies ravaged by shock waves, fire or asphyxiation – or all three. There is overall sympathy for the workers and the exploitative owners are shown in their true colours.

It was a good book to this uninformed reader but perhaps experts would know if this was sensationalist or a fair account, because it felt on the popular side. A rich seam for acerbic Paxman' Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday 'A really Mines were horrible places and miners were, except during a brief period between the successful strikes of the early 1970s and the failed one of 1984–5, poorly paid. Both mention the development of steam engines, their bringing forth coal from the earth, and the society, economics, politics, and culture they produced. He launched it soon after the Tories had won a large majority in Parliament and in a manner that divided the miners themselves, ensuring that a significant minority stayed at work.

From its beginnings to its end, the industry that made our country what it is, for good and ill, was a brutal business.Anyone looking at strikes in Birmingham factories will come across men who had started their working lives underground in South Wales and migrated to escape unemployment between the wars. Apparently Miller remains unaware of the obvious fact that Tzarist and Communist Russia and Communist China, Nazi Germany, and various empires around the world, including the indigenous ones she discusses, all mined extensively. As Engels put it: 'there is no occupation in which a man may meet his end in so many diverse ways as this one'.

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