Sean Howe
January 04, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

Coal River

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Michael Shnayerson
publisher
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
genre
History, Nonfiction

We gave it a B-

Expanding on an ’06 Vanity Fair article, Michael Shnayerson recounts how various crusaders battled against mountaintop-removal mining, sludge spills, and other King Coal injustices in West Virginia in Coal River. But a funny thing happens on the way to the quarry: The fullest portrait is of Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Glimpsed alone in a mansion with his baseball card collection, or slowly losing an audience during an epic speech, this latter-day Kane emerges from the often stultifying facts and figures as more recognizably human than the do-gooders. It’s a sad twist that Shnayerson denies salt-of-the-earth citizens the same room to breathe. B-

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