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The Price of Justice: Death, Corruption, and an Epic Fight Against America's Most Powerful Coal Baron

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  261 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
A nonfiction legal thriller that traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice

Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America's electric power. But wealth and influence weren't enough for Blankenship and his company, a
ebook, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Times Books (first published April 30th 2013)
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Nancy Oakes
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people concerned with social or for that matter any form of real justice
When I first requested this book from LibraryThing I thought it sounded interesting, and once I picked it up, I didn't realize just how blah a word "interesting" would come to be in this case. That cliché about not being able to put the book down was absolutely true for me. I'll get right to the point and say that this is one of the most outstanding books I've read this year. It reads much like a legal thriller, but this story of corporate greed, judicial and political corruption, and sheer, unm ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I know this is bit of a niche book that’s likely to have little in the way of a "broad audience," but it’s about a topic that’s actually pretty close to my heart. I grew up in Ohio, but my entire family has roots in West Virginia. My hometown is so close to the state line that my “local” TV news was actually based out of Huntington and Charleston, so I was often a little more aware of West Virginian happenings than I was of my actual home state. And though I claim to be a little bit of both, I h ...more
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book via a Goodreads Givewaway.)

In riveting, fast-paced prose, Laurence Leamer's The Price of Justice recounts the saga of Caperton v. Massey, an epic legal battle that began in the coal fields of West Virginia and ended (in 2009) at the United States Supreme Court. A seasoned writer, Leamer does a remarkable job in briskly chronicling this long, complex legal battle. A less elegant book might have gotten bogged down the minutiae of the legal
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
A very well written and thoroughly researched account of two lawyers, David Fawcett III and Bruce Stanley, who stood up to Don Blankenship, the head of Massey Energy. Blankenship's business practices were questionable and it came to light when Hugh Caperton, the owner of Harman Mining, was destroyed and went bankrupt because of him. Throughout the trial, Blankenship's negligence also was detected when there were many deaths in the coal mines directly related to the disregard of safety measures t ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For over fifteen years, in courtrooms small and large, a slurry of lawsuits centered on the actions of a larger-than-life CEO of a large coal company. The Price of Justice chronicles this real-life drama through the perspective of the two prosecuting attorneys who spent countless hours in their pursuit to bring Don Blankenship to justice. The lawyers worked to show through the stories of victims who came forward over the years what can happen when a company gets too big and when a leader becomes ...more
Peter Range
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping legal thriller that is not only compelling but important. This book captures a critical piece of recent history in a saga that is continuing in the courts. Superb reporting and writing.
Robert Federline
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book about corruption in the coal mining industry, and a few brave souls who dared to stand against it. Although a true story, the book reads very much like a novel. The writing is mostly crisp and fresh and face-paced.

In the interest of full-disclosure, it must be noted that I am personally acquainted with one of the lawyers named, David Fawcett. With that said, the major flaws I find in the book involve the author's description of him and of his relationship with his fathe
Thomas Stevenson
If this was a mystery you might think the author's imagination was too creative. In fact this is a real story - a very long one - with many twists and turns. Ostensibly this is about legal attempts to curtail the machinations of Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy. But this is also a story of the US legal system and why so many issues linger in the courts and why injustices are common. The author has been a frequent interview guest but this does not take away from the actual story of two lawye ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, book-club
Reading as part of our Gold 'n' Bluestockings/WV Reads 150 book group.

This is nearly impossible to review. I know a number of the central characters, a couple fairly well. I was one of the (many) lawyers in one of the cases discussed near the end. I agreed with parts, disagreed with parts, and thought it was all very well-written, if very one sided (which, to be fair, is made clear from the title).

And I shall say no more.
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many excellent, comprehensive reviews- so, my 2 cents worth is a series of superlative adjectives: compelling, gripping, hopeful, despairing and joyous, dark, almost unbelievable, and extremely well written. I now have two more heroes on my Appalachian Mountains list: Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley.
Jun 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As compelling as any nonfiction story of years of court battles could possibly be. Leamer creates characters the reader really cares about. Anyone who doesn't understand how our judicial system really works is in for an eye opener. Highly recommend this one,
Daniela Leamer
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a riveting book and an important book in that it highlights a case of outrageous corporate abuse of money and power and these two lawyers' quest to hold the CEO of Massey Energy accountable for his actions through our court system.
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a legal thriller about greed and corruption. Unfortunately, it is a true account of events I followed with horror as they were happening. Well written fast paced narrative about the control exercised by the coal industry in West Virginia.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well-written account of the way that justice is for sale in our country. If this doesn't wake us up to the abuses of power that still exist in this country, I don't know what will. Highly recommended read for everyone.
Jun 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who've read John Grisham's "The Appeal", you'll find the essence of that story to be the same as "The Price of Justice: A True Story of Greed and Corruption", by Laurence Leamer. In both, the CEO of a major corporation makes huge contributions to the campaign coffers of a candidate for the state supreme court, with the expectation that the pending appeal of a large jury verdict against him will be overturned by a more "friendly" court. And as in both books, this is exactly what happens ...more
Linda Munro
Oh my, here we go again; this book has been on my ‘I want to read’ list since February 18, 2013.

This is a nonfiction book, about the rich and powerful; a man whose only goal in life is to make more & more money; if the price to that goal is someone else’s wealth or even someone else’s life, then so be it.

This book is billed as a nonfiction legal thriller, I am sorry to say, I did not agree. The introduction was fast paced and had me believing that I would be reading a thriller, after that,
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Narrative non-fiction. I read this for my local library's non-fiction book club (October 2014). This is an excellent book and very heartbreaking too. My best friend's stepfather died in a coal mining accident in the 1990s, but to my knowledge I do not think it had anything to do with Don Blankenship (or Massey) or the evils he has done to people. I know most of the bigger cities and some of the smaller towns mentioned in this work, I have been to many of them, and as I said I am friends with the ...more
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this book. It's a true story that is pretty similar to the John Grisham book "The Appeal." Two lawyers from Pittsburgh sue a subsidiary of Massey Energy (and come to target Massey's truly horrible CEO Don Blankenship) for running a small coal mine operator out of business. They win a huge verdict after trial. But, the case winds its way through West Virginia's appeals system for years. Ultimately, Massey (through Blanekenship) spends millions getting new judges elected to the We ...more
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this author does not do the best job capturing the intensity of a court room drama (the court scenes just dragged on forever!), he does a fantastic job of capturing the corruption and political dealings in the justice system of West Virginia. The descriptions of the WV supreme court and the level of corruption playing out behind the scenes in the courtroom and during cases is gripping and tragic. The descriptions of Blankenship and Massey's destruction of the state of West Virginia was ...more
Luis Perez
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book. It made my blood boil throughout and made my heart go out to the hard-working people of WEst Virginia who seem to be nothing but pawns in a world of corporate greed.

It's not that common to see lawyers portrayed as good guys -- heck, they're almost as despised as journalists, and maybe rightly so -- but it's refreshing to see that even in this much-maligned profession, there are some good guys, and gals. This book is meticulously researched and well-crafted. A good bal
Tony Krause
It was a coincidence I was reading The Price of Justice when the state of West Virginia was in the news about the river contamination caused by a company in coal business. Eight counties in the state was affected with contaminated river water. Reading in the paper about the contaminated river could be added to The Price of Justice as a another chapter to the book. Greed and corruption continues in West Virginia with no justice attained. An excellent true story of how corporations, a stae legal s ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurence Leamer has written a non-fiction book that reads like a thriller. Devoted mostly to the destruction of the Harman Coal Company and its CEO Hugh Caperton by Massey Energy and its malevolent chairman, Don Blankenship--and the resulting lawsuits--the book's heroes are attorneys Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley. Their indefatigable efforts to hold Massey and Blankenship to account for their egregious actions is a must read for anyone interested in Appalachia, the energy market, or the environ ...more
Judy Herrmann
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story of two lawyers that went after a coal mine company in West Virginia. This book read like a thriller, but it is nonfiction. The company did not comply with mine safety requirements or environmental reclamation requirements. The book covers three main events: two mine accidents and one case of driving a mine subsidiary to bankruptcy.
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With election day just two days away it has been announced that a new record amount has been reached in campaign spending. Much more poignant news having finished this book about buying off judges to protect profits while sacrificing the safety and well- being of workers. Shameful and anger-producing. Read it and weep is too cliched but truly what I feel like.
A bit of a mess, this. The climactic moments are decisions by appellate courts, and the efforts to render them accessible fall rather short. Nor, for all their doggedness, are either of the two central lawyer characters made compelling enough to carry the load. Same goes for the archvillain. An important story, but not one told with much insight.
Al Menaster
Apr 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
terrific book. True story of a coal mine lawsuit, ending up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Exposes corruption in the legal system and failure of justice, time and again. The loser funds a candidate to win a Supreme Court seat to reverse the judgment.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched. It moved a little slow in places but considering what a HUGE subject the story covers, the author did a good job. Lets you know that greed and evil are alive and well in the mountains of Appalachia.
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book. If you don't get absolutely steaming angry after reading this you don't have a should. The author does an incredible job of telling a very complicated story in an easy to understand way that reads like a legal thriller. Incredible work that every concerned American should read.
Gerald Curtis
This was a fascinating account of legal battles by the little guys against the corporate powers of corrupt coal barons. Great insight into the political corruption rampant in the legal system as well.
Deanna Hoard
Everyone should read this book, but especially every West Virginian. It's an important book, but it also is very readable and actually exciting. I've heard it compared to a John Grisham novel and, in my experience, the comparison is fairly accurate.
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Laurence Leamer is an award winning journalist and historian who has written fifteen books including five New York Times bestsellers. He has worked in a factory in France, a coal mine in West Virginia and as a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote village in Nepal two days from a road. He has written one novel and an off Broadway play but is primarily known for his nonfiction. His new book, The Lynchi ...more
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