Coal Country the Book: A masterpiece of essays about contemporary coal mining. By Stephen Fesenmaier

Shirley Stewart Burns, Mari-Lynn Evans and Silas House have done an exceptional job editing many essays by the leading opponents of mountaintop removal mining. This is the perfect companion book to the great film by Mari-Lynn Evans that I have called “the “Harlan County, USA” of the 21st century.Articles range from Nick Clooney, an Appalachian native and journalist, father of a famous son, to Ken Hechler, who wrote a great article on “how Congress enabled mountaintop removal mining.” ( Ken’s parody song “Almost Level, West Virginia” sung to the tune of “Almost Heaven, WV” by John Denver is also printed. Ken is working on a book of his famous political parodies.) I especially enjoyed the quotes on the side of the main text in the essays and the photographs by Mark Schmerling, Builder Levy, Jim Clark (color photos) and many other great photographs. The book includes a good list of information resources including listing other films on MTR. There has been several notable ones recently including the 2008 Pare Lorentz Award winning film BURNING THE FUTURE – COAL IN AMERICA about Maria Gunnoe, the third WV woman to win a Goldman Award for Environmental activism. Ms. Evans, as producer, has repeated her great success of “The Appalachians,” creating a book worthy of the film that she produced. I told Ken that he should visit our local cineplex and watch “Avatar,” a film about people like Maria Gunnoe and Larry Gibson and himself fighting a giant corporation complete with its own police force willing to do anything to extract valuable ore from a living planet. Hopefully people other than myself will connect “Avatar” which took in a record $70 million on it opening weekend to the struggle in Appalachia.

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One Response to Coal Country the Book: A masterpiece of essays about contemporary coal mining. By Stephen Fesenmaier

  1. Randall Maggard says:

    I thought the title ” Coal Country ” was supposed to represent an objective documentary about the debates going on about coal mining in Appalachia. I was never told that it was going to represent the Anti-Mining groups agenda of banning mining and was being funded by the Sierra Club and Earthjustice and the Climate Action Network. I really feel that I was mislead concerning the project and if I had been told what the agenda was for the producers and directors I would have never agreed to participate and allow filming on our mining operation. The videographer spent an entire day filming and interviewing a Stream Cleanup our company sponsored and participated in but none of that was included in the film…I guess they didn’t want to show the positive activities that coal companies do in a community.
    I also assume that there are no pro coal essays in the book to show both perspectives.

    Randy,
    The Token Coal Guy

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