A very young Brit Hume tells the unbelievable story of what transpired in the United Mine Workers (UMW) through the 1960s following the retirement of John L. Lewis. The report starts with CONSOL's Farmington, WV, mine disaster, moves onto the Black Lung struggle, and unwinds the intricate dealings of the UMW during the days of President Tony Boyle. It culminates with the murder of Jock Yablonski, who had risen with the the support of rank and file miners to challenge Boyle's reign. What is remarkable about this book is the detail and the people. For instance, when Yablonski's camp protested unfair union practices to the Department of Labor, they were rejected by the Labor Secretary, George Shultz, the same George Shultz who went on politcally for many years afterwards. There also is a young Ralph Nader, who assisted Yablonski's attempt to overthrow Boyle up to a point. According to Hume's account, Nader withdrew his backing and student lawyers after he found Yablonski uninspired in the early days of the campaign (in fact, Yablonski had to be in DC to deal with legal matters and could not visit the coalfields, as he did later in the campaign). One could say with fair certainty that both Shultz and Nader -- at opposite poles of power -- contributed to Yablonski's demise. Any reader interested in unions, government policy, the media or any energy-related matters should read this grim history. Today, the UMW is different, without question for the better. Current federal government is probably worse and more bureaucratic than ever. And when was the last time you heard anything you could believe regarding the coal industry or anything else in the energy sector from the media? It would be nice to have someone like Brit Hume working the Appalachian coalfields today and report honestly the many positive things the coal industry does in the 21st century. But good news is not much of a story it seems. As you read this, coal is being combusted someplace removed from your comfortable realm to fuel your computer. That's electricity, the majority of which nation-wide is derived from coal. In other words, your computer burns coal.
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