The Coal War: A Novel
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The son of a prominent coal magnate, Hal Warner is horrified by the dangerous working conditions, long hours, and starvation wages endured by the men who toil in his family’s mines. He tries to rouse other members of his privileged class to a similar state of indignation, but soon faces a much more severe test of his progressivism. When a labor group organizes a massive strike and the mining companies respond with punishing brutality, Hal’s commitment to the cause of reform becomes a matter of life and death.
The Coal War is Upton Sinclair’s searing follow-up to King Coal. Based on events surrounding the Ludlow Massacre of 1914, it dramatizes one of the most significant conflicts between labor and capital in American history and offers an unflinching look at the shocking realities of a miner’s life in the early twentieth century. Published posthumously, this powerful and tragic novel is one of Sinclair’s finest.
This ebook has been authorized by the estate of Upton Sinclair.
up, it was found that eleven children were dead, and two women, both of them about to become mothers. “Where’s Big Jerry?” asked Hal. “I don’t know,” said Mary. “Out fighting, I guess.” “Does he know yet?” “I don’t know that.” “And where are the bodies?” Mary answered that the militia had them. They would not let anyone come near the colony. They had sent out for wagon-loads of quick-lime, it was reported; no doubt they wanted to destroy the bodies, so that no one would ever know how many
out for the salvation of the young fanatic’s future. But it was cautiously agreed by the conspirators that they would not let the young fanatic know the origin of the plan. Garret Arthur could realize that it was no job for a “bond-worm”, to handle a youth gone mad on socialistic moonshine. If they hoped to save him, they must be wise as serpents and harmless as—well, as a girl with star-dust in her hair, and eyes wide-open, questioning, full of wonder! The day after the conference Hal received
puts me in another bad place.” And so on, man after man, camp after camp, for fifty miles up and down the line! “They told me this was a free country,” said one English miner. “But I have found out that it is not a free country!”  On the evening of the first day the chairman announced that the convention would listen to an address by “Mother Mary”. There broke out a storm of applause, which swelled into a tumult as a little woman came forward on the platform. She was wrinkled and old,
either for herself or for the miners; but when the disaster had come, she had flamed out in a way that had amazed him. She had shown courage and devotion, the stuff out of which a leader of her people might be made. Hal was trying to figure out some way for her to take care of herself and the young people. Could not Adelaide give her a place as a servant in her home? She was young and handsome, with a treasure of auburn hair; also she would surely be what the advertisements described as “willing
sweetheart, gnawing like a worm in his heart. How could she show so little effective response to the thing that was dear to him? Was there something lacking in her? He made the excuse that she was so young, but he had to admit that she was not so very young; she was nineteen—and surely that is old enough for a woman to discover that the jewels she wears are the crystallized agony of other people. Seeing that she did not discover it, he pointed it out to her, many times and in many ways. He waited