Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal

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Macmillan, Sep 18, 2012 - Business & Economics - 283 pages
26 Reviews

"Scathing exposé of the coal industry."
--The New York Times Book Review

On April 5, 2010, an explosion ripped through Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine, killing twenty-nine coal miners. This tragedy was the deadliest mine disaster in the United States in forty years--a disaster that never should have happened. These deaths were rooted in the cynical corporate culture of Massey and its notorious former CEO Don Blankenship, and were part of an endless cycle of poverty, exploitation, and environmental abuse that has dominated the Appalachian coalfields since coal was first discovered there. And the cycle continues unabated as coal companies bury the most insidious dangers deep underground, all in search of higher profits, and hide the true costs from regulators, unions, and investors alike.

But the disaster at Upper Big Branch goes beyond the coalfields of West Virginia. It casts a global shadow, calling into bitter question why coal miners in the United States are sacrificed to erect cities on the other side of the world, why the coal wars have been allowed to rage, polarizing the country, and how the world's voracious appetite for energy is satisfied at such horrendous cost.

With Thunder on the Mountain, Peter A. Galuszka pieces together the true story of greed and negligence behind the tragedy at the Upper Big Branch Mine, and in doing so he has created a devastating portrait of an entire industry that exposes the coal-black motivations that led to the death of twenty-nine miners and fuel the ongoing war for the world's energy future.


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Review: Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal

User Review  - Goodreads

Well balanced if written a bit "clunky." An indictment on Appalachian Big Coal in general and Massey Energy and it's former CEO Don Blankenship, who is currently under trial, in particular. The exploitation of the people of Appalachia is an old story, but one that merits attention. Read full review

Review: Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal

User Review  - Betsy - Goodreads

I read this book to 1) learn more about the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster and Massey's/Don Blankenship's role in it; and 2) to try to make sense out of the so-called “coal wars.” I grew up in Western ... Read full review


Death at Upper Big Branch
Renegade CEO
Up the Hollow
The Roots of Massey Energy
Big Coals Ugly and Bright Future
Stripmining on Steroids
Asias Appetite
Alphas Rotten Apple

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About the author (2012)

PETER A. GALUSZKA is a veteran journalist who has covered worldwide energy issues, especially coal, for several decades. A former West Virginia resident, he logged thousands of miles on the windy mountain roads of Central Appalachia and traveled to Mongolia, China, and Japan to track down the Massey story. The former Moscow bureau chief for BusinessWeek, he now lives in Chesterfield, Virginia.

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