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Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  348 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews

On a spring morning in 1914, in the stark foothills of southern Colorado, members of the United Mine Workers of America clashed with guards employed by the Rockefeller family, and a state militia beholden to Colorado’s industrial barons. When the dust settled, nineteen men, women, and children among the miners’ families lay dead. The strikers had killed at least thirty me

Hardcover, 386 pages
Published October 31st 2008 by Harvard University Press (first published October 1st 2008)
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Kelli Peters
Thomas Andrews’ work Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War presents a detailed history of the fighting and tensions between coal miners and employers in southern Colorado. Andrews begins his work with a description of the “Ludlow Massacre” or “Ludlow Battle” that took place on April 20, 1914. Throughout the rest of his work, Andrews explains why both of these nomenclatures do not properly describe the events that happened in Ludlow. Andrews provides immense details about the life of co ...more
Rob Prince
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
now we - or at least they- kill for oil... in the past (and actually it continues) we killed for coal. the state in which i live has a rather unknown history of literal armed struggle between this state's miners, many of whom were immigrants, and the u.s. military. it happened it telluride, in the northern fields east of boulder (around louisville) and of course at ludlow. `killing for coal' gives a sense of how, when it comes to producing the energy necessary for industrialization and our moder ...more
Shonda Wilson
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book takes a look at the uprising of coal miners and how they... after the destruction of a tent village...go on a rampage because of the deaths of women and children... its interesting, compelling, and easy to understand why these men resorted to the lengths they did after years of attempting to get some sort of boost in pay while making the rest of the world work in the middle of a period where everyone was dependent on coal.
Jan 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was partial to this book even before I read it. The author is the son of a college friend. The book is his history dissertation published by Harvard University Press--a very special recognition. While coal mining in southern Colorado is not my first topic of interest, Andrews made this study readable, insightful, and compelling.
John E
Sep 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book! The best history book I've read in many years (and I read a lot of history). If you are interested in labor history, environmental history, the history of migration, Western American history, business history, or just a great read, this is well worth your time. No wonder it won so many prizes when published.
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a really well written and fascinating look at coal mining in Colorado. I don't love labor or environmental history (Andrews focus) but the book was so well written and researched that it read like a social history and was really enjoyable.
The Vestiges
Nov 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating analysis of the influence of coal on the development of the American West and painful labor strife which accompanied it.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A truly detailed, multi-textured, and elegant portrayal of all the diverse and various threads that fueled the Ten Days War of the Colorado coalfields. You probably don't know what that is. I didn't either, but I have a much deeper appreciation for the wider context beyond the events than I otherwise would have. This is definitely worth the time of anyone studying labor strife, social change through migration, and the development of western American society.

I am also struck by one quote in parti
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it
KILLING FOR COAL is a labor history of miners in the southern coalfields of Colorado during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It may be considered an environmental history because it addresses (among the social, political, and cultural dimensions of labor relations between miners and capitalists) the natural and ecological dimensions and setting of the region’s history. Andrews introduces the term “workscape” that “treats people as laboring beings who have changed and been changed ...more
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
In his book, Killing for Coal: America’s Deadliest Labor War, Thomas C. Andrews explores the causes that led to the 1914 Ludlow Massacre and the following Ten Day’s War that enveloped the southern Colorado mining fields. Andrews seeks to remove Ludlow from the narrow confines of past interpretations of Ludlow-as-massacre and Ludlow-as-battle by placing it within a larger context. With extensive archival evidence, Andrews argues that Ludlow and the Great Coalfield War were a result of half a cent ...more
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: phd-program, the-west
This book is difficult to review. The book is really about the coal industry in Colorado (and adjacent Mountain West states), how the coal was formed, how the industry started, the types of workers and various unionization efforts throughout those years of intensive labor. The entirety of the 10 days war takes about 10 pages and given the significant gaps in the historical record, he's done a good job.

However, getting to that specific strike takes over 200 pages. He has created an interesting h
Sep 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Reading this book gave me a new insight into the developmental history of industrialized Colorado. The combination of railroads and William Jackson Palmers influence on the development of the coal empires was new to me. It also gave me a new perspective on the United Mine Workers.
The book is packed with information which makes reading a slow, thoughtful process. It is wrth the time to study it for the information gained. It is somewhat depressing to realize that the employer/employee struggles,
Donna Herrick
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is by far one of the besty books that I have ever read, it makes me want to redefine my rating system. This is a history of the events called the "Ludlow Massacre", but it is much more. Andrews gives a great view of the coal mining industry, its place in society, how mining came to be in Colorado, and the conditions that the miners worked and lived in. I wish I had this as an e-book so that I could go to the references over and over again.

I find many parallels between
American society now a
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This one just won the Bancroft (awarded by the Organization of American Historians for best book) and Carson (awarded by the Americans Society for Environmental History for best book) prizes. It also happens to be authored by a friend of mine from grad school. He sat across the table from me in my first-ever grad seminar, and by the time he'd made his third comment I was beginning to wonder if I'd chosen the wrong career. He was *that* intimidatingly smart. Then at the end of class, he asked if ...more
Deborah Méndez-wilson
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for anyone who wants a comprehensive, scholarly look at the Ludlow Massacre, one of the saddest chapters of Colorado history. Professor Andrews is a fine researcher and writer, who writes in a very authoritative, journalistic style. I like that he admits that he knew nothing about Ludlow while growing up in Denver, which can seem light years away from southern Colorado, where I grew up. I, on the other hand, heard about Ludlow when I was just a little girl. My grandfather, a ...more
Diana Reyes
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Killing for Coal" by Thomas G. Andrews writes a well written book on the retelling of the Ludlow Massacre. This book has a magical way to intrigue a read and captivate them. It provides valuable information on the event. This book is a good way to learn every detail and aspect of the Ludlow attack. It's a can't miss for readers interested in the coal history.
Jan 28, 2009 rated it liked it
I actually got to do a "real" review of this one. See here, if you like:

What I didn't have room to say in the review is that the book is written by an academic, and boy can his lingo be annoying. If you can get past his insistence on using terms like "workspace" and "vernacular landscape," it's a fascinating read.
Ankit Goyal
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very nice glimpse into the industrial age for those of us who have grown in an information age and perhaps are unable to identify with the completely transformational nature of that age . Themes of human greed and apathy run through out the book , reminiscent of much of the writings on modern capitalism .
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great book on a little known "battle" between Colorado mine workers, backed by their union, and coal companies, backed by the National Guard. Andrews presented a narrative that flowed easily as he broke down the reasons for the fight between the union workers and the coal companies. It was a compelling story and one I found more interesting than I originally thought.
Jason S
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: coal
Much more ambitious than a history of the Ludlow massacres in Colorado, this book combines labor and environmental history to do a commodity history of coal in southern Colorado. A very interesting and effective work.
May 28, 2013 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
We didn't read the entirety of this work for my History of Energy course this past semester (Spring 2013) and, contrary to my hopes, I didn't get to read the remainder before I had to part with the book.
Lloyd Fassett
Jan 31, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: history
1/31/16 There is a American Experience documentary on PBS featuring this author and incident
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
Nice prose for a very factual book, sometimes too fact heavy though. It made it hard to read. I wish the events reached a better climax, but I guess that's history for you.
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reviewed for Earth Magazine
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting blend of environmental and labor history.
Jul 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
Written by an academic, and it shows. I made a couple of attempts but couldn't wade through the prose. Pity, an important piece of history.
rated it it was amazing
Oct 20, 2015
Nicholas J Franks
rated it really liked it
Jan 13, 2015
rated it really liked it
Jan 22, 2011
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Thomas G. Andrews specializes in the social and environmental history of the Rocky Mountain West. The recipient of grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Huntington Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and other organizations, he has authored prize-winning articles on assimilation and native resistance in federal day scho ...more
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