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King Coal

Upton Sinclair

Book Overview: 

King Coal is a book by Upton Sinclair that exposes the dirty working conditions in the coal mining industry in the western United States during the 1910s. As in an earlier work, The Jungle, Sinclair expresses his socialist viewpoints from the perspective of a single protagonist, Hal Warner, caught up in the schemes and plots of the oppressive American capitalist system. The book itself is based on the 1914-1915 Colorado coal strikes. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .had gone some distance with her; he had been seen to walk out with her, he had been accounted her "fellow." He had led her to talk to him of herself—he had insisted upon having her confidences. And these people who were poor did not have subtleties, there was no room in their lives for intellectual curiosities, for Platonic friendships or philanderings. "Forgive me, Mary!" he said.

She made no answer; but a sob escaped her, and she drew back from his arms—slowly. He struggled with an impulse to clasp her again. She was beautiful, warm with life—and so much in need of happiness!

But he held himself in check, and for a minute or two they stood apart. Then he asked, humbly, "We can still be friends, Mary, can't we? You must know—I'm so sorry!"

But she could not endure being pitied. "'Tis nothin'," she said. "Only I thought I was going to get away! That's what ye mean to me."

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Community Reviews

Ακόμα κ για τους πιο δύσπιστους, αυτό το βιβλίο αποκαλύπτει, με ευανάγνωστο τρόπο, το διαρκές απάνθρωπο πρόσωπο του καπιταλισμού. Πίσω στο 1914 μια ιστορία πιο επίκαιρη από ποτέ.

Slavery wasn't ended with Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation or with the Union’s defeat of the Confederacy. Well into the Twentieth Century slavery prevailed throughout the United States. True, the buying and selling of human flesh was no longer practiced but the Industrial Revolution enslaved h...more

Ιστορία εμπνευσμένη από τα γεγονότα που συγκλόνισαν το Κολοράντο του 1914, ξεκινώντας από την απεργία των ανθρακωρύχων της περιοχής μέχρι την πλήρη καταστολή της από τη συμμαχία κράτους - εταιρείας που οδήγησε στο θάνατο 18 ατόμων εκ των οποίων τα 10 ήταν παιδιά.
Διεισδυτικό ανάγνωσμα, το οποίο πε...more

What to say about this book?

Well. It's the original "slum tourism" aka poverty porn. It's the story of a rich kid, Hal Warner, who wonders what it's like for the other half. So he adopts a generic name and pretends to be just like one of the poor people (he legit fakes their accent and at one poi...more

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store
Those lines, composed by Merle Travis and popularized by Tennessee Ernie Ford, pretty much sum up the situation in coal mining that persiste...more

It's hard to believe that Upton Sinclair's novel is 100 years old. His prose has the stirring ring of universal truth -- a vibrancy and immediacy that casts his novel not as the document of past historical events or the portrait of an out-dated industrial period in American life, but as an ever-p...more

Dismissing the book as socialist, atheist, outmoded, racist, propagandist, or with some other, yes, accurate (or semi-accurate) descriptor is an easy way to disengage from the actual issues and problems presented by the author and abrogate in oneself the feeling that those injustices so clearly e...more

It’s interesting that an executive of Massey Energy was sentenced for criminal negligence with regard to a coal mine disaster on the very week I finished King Coal, Upton Sinclair’s muckraking novel about energy companies (the General Fuel Company), coal miners, and unions. Sinclair’s novel was a...more

First of all, it's pretty awesome that Upton Sinclair brought attention to all of the issues that he did. It's even more awesome that he did it through a fictional medium which would be more appetizing and consumable to the broadly uneducated masses. It's amazing to think of it like that, that a...more

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