Books

Life, Work, and Rebellion in the Coal Fields by David Alan Corbin. Dave Corbin's award-winning book was one of the first scholarly examinations of the West Virginia mine wars. Corbin takes a detailed look at the lives of the early coal miners and the conditions under which they worked. He explains the difficulties in reconciling their culture and experiences with the ultimately successful effort to organize them into the United Mine Workers. Corbin himself is a son of the coal fields and shows great sympathy to the miners. Ironically, one of his relatives was Oscar Bennet, a Baldwin Felts detective who was present at Matewan the day of the battle but who escaped either through luck or premonition.

Publisher: University of Illinois Press (1989).

Purchase here.


The West Virginia Mine Wars: An Anthology by David Alan Corbin (ed). The West Virginia Mine Wars tell the story of the union battles as seen by the leaders, rand and file participants, and the national journalists who came to West Virginia to cover them. Union leaders like Gompers, Frank Keeney, Fred Mooney, and Mother Jones disscuss the lives and struggle of the miners for their union. The book also contains articles, speeches, and personal testimony heard by two U.S. Senate committees sent to investigate West Virginia's labor problems. In this testimony, miners and their family members describe life and work in the coal camps, telling why they participated in these violent episodes in West Virginia history.

Publisher: Appalachian Editions (1998).

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Gun Thugs, Rednecks, and Radicals: A Documentary History of the West Virginia Mine Wars by David Alan Corbin (ed). Telling the powerful story of the West Virginia coal mining rebellions of the early 20th century, this book collects material from the leaders, the miners, and the journalists sent to report on the 1912 and 1921 West Virginia mine wars-explosive examples of strikes and union battles. Featured in the text are articles, speeches, and discussions between union leaders such as Samuel Gompers, Frank Keeney, Fred Mooney, Bill Blizzard, and Mother Jones. Also included are U.S. Senate committee testimonies from miners and their family members describing life and work in the coal camps and explaining their participation in the violence. These facts clearly portray the human cost of industry and present the hard choices of a rebellious and often politically radical populace who refuses to be beleaguered under any circumstances.

Publisher: PM Press (2011).

Purchase here (Kindle edition available).