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Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal

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3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  56 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
"Scathing exposé of the coal industry."
-- The New York Times Book Review

On April 5, 2010, an explosion ripped through Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine, killing twenty-nine coal miners. This tragedy was the deadliest mine disaster in the United States in forty years—a disaster that never should have happened. These deaths were rooted in the cynical corporate culture o
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Hardcover, 306 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Paul Pessolano
Feb 26, 2013 Paul Pessolano rated it really liked it
“Thunder on the Mountain” BY Peter A. Galuszka, published by St. Martin’s Press.

Category – History/Coal Mining

“Thunder on the Mountain” should be read by everyone in the coal belts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I know because I came from a coal mining town in Pennsylvania. I know the mindset of the miner. These are people who are hard working and set in their ways. So set in their ways that they have no problem going back into the mines after a horrific disaster. The story begins with the e
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Betsy
Aug 06, 2015 Betsy rated it really liked it
I read this book to 1) learn more about the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster and Massey’s/Don Blankenship’s role in it; and 2) to try to make sense out of the so-called “coal wars.” I grew up in Western Pennsylvania’s bituminous coal country, less than 10 miles from the Homer City coal-burning power plant which, apparently, for years was the “dirtiest” plant in the country and produced more sulfur dioxide than any other power plant nationwide. On a recent visit, I saw signs saying, “Stop the war ...more
Lissa
Although this book purports to be about the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine disaster that killed twenty-nine miners in 2006, it actually reads more like a collection of essays that are loosely related to one another that deal with topics ranging from Massey Energy (the owner of the UBB mine at the time of the explosion), a biography of Don Blankenship (CEO of Massey Energy at the time of the explosion), Mongolia's coal fields and the international demand for coal, and the fact that the US government ...more
David Ward
Jan 23, 2016 David Ward rated it did not like it
Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal by Peter A. Galuszka (St. Martin's Press 2012) (363.119622) is an axe-grinder of an expose concerning the Massey Coal Company and its former CEO Donald Blankenship. A confession: my sympathies lie completely with the mineworkers and the environmentalists. With that said, although the book espouses the same viewpoints, Thunder on the Mountain is almost unreadable. I have never read a more poorly edited commercial publi ...more
Mary Bd
Jun 16, 2016 Mary Bd rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Laura
Sep 17, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
On the one hand, this expose covering Massey Energy, the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster, and Massey CEO Don Blankenship contains lots of history and policy information, all of which is quite interesting. Massey and Blankenship were both bad actors, and their manipulation of the political and regulatory worlds in which they operated is pretty amazing. On the other, the book screams for an editor who pays attention to both its writing and its organization. The author has excellent ...more
Jim
Sep 07, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
First I will acknowledge that I have known author Peter Galuszka for over 30 years, so I have a bias.

This is a fascinating account of the coal industry written in a journalistic style. The book covers several areas: the actual account of the 2010 mining disaster that killed 29, the corporate culture of "Big Coal," and the global outlook for energy. I learned a great deal. The amount of money coal companies have been willing to pay in fines rather than invest in safety is truly criminal.

Some revi
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Lisa
May 25, 2013 Lisa rated it it was ok
The book would have made a good polemic or a decent history, but in trying to be both it fails on both accounts. Would have been a better choice to do this as a long-ish magazine article and focus just on the UBB disaster. Also, as others have pointed out, the book is riddled with typos and sentences/concepts that repeat in the same words mere pages apart. A good idea in serious need of an editor.
Peggy
Jan 12, 2013 Peggy rated it liked it
Shelves: west-virginia
Dispiriting disquisition on Massey Energy and Don Blankenship, its Chairman and CEO. How milk marketing became more regulated than coal mining is beyond me, but the author makes this comparison more than once. Just another tragic true story about greed and exploitation in central Appalachia. Well-researched, but depressing. Anyone interested in the Appalachian coal industry will find this book informative.
Stephanie LGW
This book did seem like an axe-grinder at times, and I felt like the information and stories were repeated to flesh the book out a bit, but if even half of the information is true, we are destroying Appalachia entirely - environmentally, personally, economically. Ugh.
Mike Wigal
Nov 03, 2015 Mike Wigal rated it really liked it
Well balanced if written a bit "clunky." An indictment on Appalachian Big Coal in general and Massey Energy and it's former CEO Don Blankenship, who is currently under trial, in particular. The exploitation of the people of Appalachia is an old story, but one that merits attention.
Jenn
Jan 08, 2015 Jenn rated it really liked it
Reading a book about coal mining while you are a coal miner is incredibly difficult, but I found the book interesting. At some points, the author tries too hard in his descriptions and other times the sentences are difficult to swallow. Another point entirely is how often he skips around.
Jamie King
Feb 04, 2013 Jamie King rated it liked it
Shelves: favorite
Absolutely worth a read, especially if you have connections to this area, I know many of us tend to think the company coal town days are something from the past but this book will give you a second glance and what is continuing to happen in the coal areas of the south.
Jim Hall
Mar 10, 2013 Jim Hall rated it really liked it
Good addition to Big Coal, Coal River, and Lost Mountain. Provides much more detail about Massey Energy's evil doings.
Ruth
Jul 15, 2013 Ruth rated it really liked it
My new interest is Big Coal. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to know what has been happening while our minds and hearts have been otherwise preoccupied.
Carl Stevens
May 31, 2015 Carl Stevens rated it did not like it
29 miners killed by greed deserve a better book than this rough draft in desperate need of a professional editor.
Angie Tonkery
Feb 05, 2016 Angie Tonkery rated it it was amazing
Deeply disturbing. Having grown up in a coal mining family, this book resonated with me long after I finished it. Corruption, lies, political intrigue... it's worth the read.
Missy
Missy rated it liked it
Aug 21, 2013
Dawn
Dawn rated it liked it
Mar 13, 2015
Tim
Aug 12, 2014 Tim rated it it was amazing
Sad, but true
Míchael Tew
Nov 11, 2012 Míchael Tew rated it it was ok
This book needs a good editor.
old.70
old.70 rated it it was amazing
Aug 13, 2016
Bob Egan
Bob Egan rated it really liked it
May 23, 2016
Ellen
Ellen rated it did not like it
Nov 12, 2013
Philip Baker
Philip Baker rated it it was ok
Mar 27, 2013
John Richards
John Richards rated it really liked it
Jan 10, 2013
lesleymac
lesleymac rated it really liked it
May 27, 2014
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Rhonda rated it liked it
Sep 15, 2016
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Apr 11, 2016
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Sep 21, 2014
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