Coal: A Human History
Coal has transformed societies and shaped the fate of nations. It launched empires and triggered wars. Above all, it fuelled the Industrial Revolution in Britain, propelling the rise of a small rural kingdom into the greatest commercial empire in the world. Barbara Freese, an assistant attorney general of Minnesota (where she helps enforce environmental laws), offers an exquisite chronicle of the rise and fall of this bituminous black mineral. Freese narrates the discovery of coal in the colonies, the development of the first U.S. coal town, Pittsburgh, and the history of coal in China. Despite its allure as a cheap and warm energy source, coal carries a high environmental cost. The author contends that alternate energy sources must be found to ensure a healthier environment for future generations. Part history and part environmental argument, this book teaches an important lesson about the interdependence of humans and their natural environment both for good and ill throughout history.