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King Coal

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  324 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Upton Sinclair is best known for writing The Jungle -- a novel that exposes the practices of the meat packing industry that lead to governmental investigations and changed food laws in America. King Coal is based on the 1914 and 1915 coal strikes and follows Hal Warner, a rich man who wanted a look into commoners' lives. A fellow determined to find the truth for himself ab ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Aegypan (first published 1917)
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23rd out of 102 books — 51 voters

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Apr 20, 2016 Gerald rated it it was amazing
Dismissing the book as socialist, atheist, outmoded, racist, propagandist, or with some other, yes, accurate (or semi-accurate) descriptor is an easy way to disengage from the actual issues and problems presented by the author and abrogate in oneself the feeling that those injustices so clearly enumerated within actually need to be vigorously sought out, publicized, and fought against in all times and places.

This book obviously takes place over 100 years ago and deals with particulars of that t
Thom Swennes
Dec 11, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Social crusaders and lovers of a good story
Slavery wasn't ended with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation or with the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy. Well into the Twentieth Century slavery prevailed throughout the United States. True, the buying and selling of human flesh was no longer practiced but the Industrial Revolution enslaved humans of all colors and ethnic backgrounds as sure as the Negro was before the War. Big industry exploited the common workers and kept them in poverty all in the name of riches and profit. King Coal by U ...more
James Hatton
Nov 29, 2014 James Hatton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the lives and deaths of coal miners in the Western United States in the early Twentieth Century. It is about Americans and immigrants in the land of the free, working as slaves, essentially. And then, their fight back.

The postscript to this book is essential. In it, the author presents excerpts of a Colorado Supreme Court judgement against certain political jurisdictions controlled by the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, which clearly show that the content of the story is bas
Oct 10, 2015 Johnny rated it liked it
Shelves: literature
It’s interesting that an executive of Massey Energy was sentenced for criminal negligence with regard to a coal mine disaster on the very week I finished King Coal, Upton Sinclair’s muckraking novel about energy companies (the General Fuel Company), coal miners, and unions. Sinclair’s novel was about the events of a great strike by the United Mineworkers in 1914 and this recent court decision took place in 2015. Now, I’m not the most pro-union guy in the world, but I know that unions have been v ...more
Nicholas Armstrong
Oct 22, 2014 Nicholas Armstrong rated it liked it
First of all, it's pretty awesome that Upton Sinclair brought attention to all of the issues that he did. It's even more awesome that he did it through a fictional medium which would be more appetizing and consumable to the broadly uneducated masses. It's amazing to think of it like that, that a man changed world views by showing people a picture of an imaginary world. For some reason, we can much more easily find fault in something like that and then start asking questions of our own. For some ...more
Apr 27, 2012 Al rated it liked it
if you have ever read The Jungle; just replace "meat packing industry" with "coal mining industry" and you don't have to read this book...

actually, a pretty good read. Sinclair is pretty up front about his socialism...
Paris Golfakis
Jul 19, 2014 Paris Golfakis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ακόμα κ για τους πιο δύσπιστους, αυτό το βιβλίο αποκαλύπτει, με ευανάγνωστο τρόπο, το διαρκές απάνθρωπο πρόσωπο του καπιταλισμού. Πίσω στο 1914 μια ιστορία πιο επίκαιρη από ποτέ.
Sep 09, 2012 Claudia rated it it was amazing
As topical today as when it was written (1917). Muckraking of the highest order by a master of the genre. Today, with the economy about as far south as it can be, albeit rebounding somewhat, we read, hear about and experience firsthand curtailment of the rights of workers. The prevailing mentality is "if you don't like no breaks and no lunch periods, there is the door. There will be 45 applicants for your job tomorrow". So it was then and so it is now.

Here in this book the setting was an insula
Jan 23, 2016 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: exposé-fiction

TRIGGER WARNINGS: guns, violent content, racism (Japanese), racist slur for Spanish & Italian people (starting with "D", in narrative), racist slur for Hungarian people (starts with "H", in narrative), racist slur for Mexican people (starts with "G", in narrative), racist slur for African-American/Black people (starts with "N", in narrative and speech, frequent), racist slur for Italian people (starts with "W", in speech), kidnapping/police corruption, sexual assault

A very importan
Carol Spears
Feb 06, 2014 Carol Spears rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and well told tale; part of my "industrial revolution" reading along with The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The History of Standard Oil. I find it curious how the government was used to keep socialism within the companies and out of the workers.
Maria Pannell
Apr 20, 2010 Maria Pannell rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be a truly captivating representation of the hypocrisy and oppression that the early 20th century coal miners encountered. While the plot is not as notable as his earlier work, The Jungle; King Coal is laced with it's own gruesome depiction of the corruption caused by greed and apathetic treatment toward the mine workers.

Upton Sinclair devoted his life to exposing the flaws of big industry and I think everyone could benefit from reflecting on his work.

I would also recommend
Tanya Faberson
Jul 25, 2010 Tanya Faberson rated it it was amazing
I really can't say how profoundly affected I was by this book. I have been interested in the history of coal camps, and the coal industry overall, for years, but never delved into it head first until about two years ago. I can say honestly that Sinclair's portrayal of labor relations, politics, and humanitarian struggles are just as true today as they were when he wrote this. I've seen things first hand... and at times it's disheartening to know that while some things have changed, so many other ...more
Jun 12, 2010 Hortensia rated it liked it
I listened to the audiobook version of this, and it was good, didactic fiction. Really nicely based upon real research on the coal mining process, the problems involved in organizing a union, the problems involved in enforcing safety provisions, gender relations, inter-ethnic competition and solidarity, etc. Great as a book to assign to students. Especially nice that is an audiobook.

Spoiler alert: It is disappointing, though, that we find out the protagonist is not really a wage worker but an up
Fae Kelley
Mar 10, 2016 Fae Kelley rated it really liked it
Found this book more reader friendly than The Jungle. I wonder how the Warner mines were run and if changes were made. What happens in the next chapter.
Gregory Sotir
Jun 12, 2012 Gregory Sotir rated it really liked it
A good read. The style is social realist, and as such rather flat, but the novel tells of an important time when people actually did heroic things for others with little thought for their own gain. The good hardworking people are truly good, and the evil oppressors are truly evil. I wanted more exposure of the corrupting influence of coal, but Sinclair is happiest in the hovels of the working class rather than the back rooms of state house. In any event, this was a book that was difficult to put ...more
John Convery
May 17, 2012 John Convery rated it liked it
When I bought my Kidle I set to reading a bunch of books in the public domain, with the goal of "paying for" the thing by not spending on books for a while. King Coal was free and worth every penny.

Sinclair had an axe to grind, and he did so reasonably well. Interesting but by no means great art. More of a period piece than anything else.

Me, I'm easily amused, so I liked it. Reminds you there was a time when unions were necessary to help working people defend themselves from ruthless capitalist
Dante V. Castien
Oct 30, 2014 Dante V. Castien marked it as to-read
i didnt like it much
Scott Smith
Dec 21, 2014 Scott Smith rated it really liked it
This book has really stuck with me. Just as Upton Sinclair exposed the meatpacking industry in The Jungle, here his target is the coal mining industry during the 1910s. Hal Warner, a rich young guy determined to find the truth for himself, is the hero of this tale of appalling conditions, corporate greed and an unjust system of "slave" labor. Sure, it's occasionally a bit flip, maybe slightly over-dramatized. But the messages from that long-ago time still ring true today.
Sep 28, 2014 Homunculus rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics
Grossartig, wie immer bei Upton Sinclair!
Feb 02, 2014 Claudia rated it really liked it
One of Sinclair’s great muck raking novels, King Coal focuses on the human abuses of a huge coal mining company in 1910. Affluent Hal Warner, AKA Joe Smith, spends his summer vacation from college living the life of a coal miner to see the real story for himself. The lessons learned are still relevant today: reference the 2010 Chilean mine disaster.
Jul 24, 2009 Ann rated it liked it
When taken in historical context (1917) this is an amazing story from my favorite muckraker. To think that America was ever a place of dreams come true for all is a fantasy play in the minds of the comfortable. Bodies and hearts are always being broken to make this country what it is...
Oct 12, 2009 Geoffrey rated it liked it
Sinclair was unquestionably on the side of the angels, and I love him for it, but he wasn't what you'd call a great writer, on the evidence of this novel. That said, it does pick up a bit towards the end, which also features an incongruously zany cross-dressing episode.
Jul 20, 2009 Shelagh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really good book, in fact I enjoyed it much more than Oil, the other Sinclair book I had read. I found it particularly interesting working on a tunnel project and working with the tunnel union and see what the conditions were like. The greed was remarkable
Kurt Kirsch
Sep 04, 2013 Kurt Kirsch rated it it was amazing
A treat for the inner socialist. Great reminder that "the gap" is nothing new. Takes us back to a time when retaliation against labor was much more overt than today. We've actually come a long way.
Jun 07, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
My favorite Upton Sinclair book about the workingman's efforts to unionize. I like this one the most because it's optimistic, unlike the Jungle or Oil!, which are just plain depressing.
Jan 06, 2013 Naomi rated it it was amazing

Brilliant! I loved it just as much as the jungle if not more so. Once again sinclair is relevant, captivating and on point. This makes me excited to dive into "Oil"
Jul 16, 2008 Sue rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, of course. But a rather depressing social portrait. Realistic, but depressing. Time for something light . . .
Aug 20, 2013 Wendy rated it liked it
The exposition of coal production vs miners rights pre-union era times.
Dec 22, 2013 Terry rated it really liked it
love these old novels!!!!
Adeline marked it as to-read
May 23, 2016
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Let's Read Togeth...: Ep. 44 - King Coal with Mike Fallek 1 1 Dec 23, 2015 08:27AM  
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Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. was an American author who wrote close to one hundred books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906). To gather information for the novel, Sinclair spent seven weeks undercover working in the meat packing plants of Chicago. These direct experiences expos ...more
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