Written in Blood: Courage and Corruption in the Appalachian War of Extraction

Written in Blood: Courage and Corruption in the Appalachian War of Extraction

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Written in Blood features the work of Appalachia’s leading scholars and activists making available an accurate, ungilded, and uncensored understanding of our history. Combining new revelations from the past with sketches of a sane path forward, this is a deliberate collection looking at our past, present, and future.

Sociologist Wess Harris (When Miners March) further documents the infamous Esau scrip system for women, suggesting an institutionalized practice of forced sexual servitude that was part of coal company policy. In a conversation with award-winning oral historian Michael Kline, federal mine inspector Larry Layne explains corporate complicity in the 1968 Farmington Mine disaster which killed seventy-eight men and became the catalyst for the passage of major changes in U.S. mine safety laws. Mine safety expert and whistleblower Jack Spadaro speaks candidly of years of attempts to silence his courageous voice and recalls government and university collaboration in covering up details of the 1972 Buffalo Creek flooding disaster, which killed over a hundred people and left four thousand homeless.

Moving to the next generation of thinkers and activists, attorney Nathan Fetty examines current events in Appalachia and musician Carrie Kline suggests paths forward for people wishing to set their own course rather than depend on the kindness of corporations.


Written in Blood shines a critical light on the untold true history of the WV Mine Wars.”
—Mari-Lynn Evans, director and producer of Blood on the Mountain

“With Written in Blood, Wess Harris has once again called attention to how the West Virginia state government and the coal industry have struggled to keep our state’s real history buried beneath a slag heap of fairy tales and misinformation. His critics will find this book, like his other works, abrasive and filled with alleged distortions about the coal companies’ abuse and exploitation of the state’s coal miners and their families. His supporters will welcome Written in Blood as Harris once again pushes the boundaries in an effort to reveal that abuse and exploitation.”
—David Corbin, author of Life, Work, and Rebellion in the Coal Fields: The Southern West Virginia Miners, 1880–1922

“For two hundred years, the coal industry has promised us prosperity. Written in Blood leaves little doubt that the prosperity never arrives. The promise itself is contingent on us agreeing to our own destruction. We must agree to stand idly by as they destroy our communities, water, air, health, and lives. We owe them nothing. They owe us everything.”
—Maria Gunnoe, Goldman Environmental Prize winner and recipient of the University of Michigan Raoul Wallenberg Medal

“For more than a century, the real history of the working people of our state has been deliberately scrubbed from our children’s schoolbooks and our collective knowledge. Written in Blood helps bring the true history of West Virginia working families back into the light of day. Read it. Learn it. Pass it on!”
—Mike Caputo, International District 31 vice president, United Mine Workers of America

“Labor historian Wess Harris targets lost history in a brand new book that provides jaw-dropping accounts of how women were treated by an industry already widely known for its ruthlessness and callousness.”

About the Editor:

Wess Harris is a sociologist, farmer, and educator who is widely recognized as a leading authority on West Virginia’s Great Mine War. He completed his graduate studies at Ohio University and later worked as a union miner and served as president of L.U. 1555. Each of his three major publications has shed light on previously unknown (oft-censored) history of the coal fields. He currently curates the When Miners March Traveling Museum.

SKU: 9781629634456
Editor: Wess Harris
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 9781629634456
Published: 9/2017
Format: Paperback
Size: 6 x 9
Page count: 264
Subjects: Politics / History-US / Labor