Book Cover

Coal in Our Veins

"I know of no other book like this.  I would call it a pioneering work in combining personal and family history with the effort to explain important parts of our past and current life—coal mining, the production and consumption of energy, and concerns about the environment, health, and quality...

Erin Ann Thomas

This is a six minute cartoon promoting my new book, “Rain in Anbar: An Interpreter’s Story of the Sunni Awakening” coming out soon. Check back for publication details:

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Come see me at the San Jose Author Fair tomorrow with 30 other local Bay Area authors: http://www.sjpl.org/authorfair

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Handcart Awardtop comments

Winners of the 2012 Evans Biography and Handcart Awards were announced this month by Utah State University’s Mountain West Center for Regional Studies. The literary prizes highlight the best new biographies with a focus on the Interior West. Handcart Award winner Erin Ann Thomas wrote Coal in our Veins: A Personal Journey as homage to her Welsh ancestors who worked underground in coal mines so that she could earn her living in the light. The book weaves historical research with …

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Margaret, who was only ten when her father died, worked as a nanny for the wealthy households of Merthyr to help support her family. She learned to read and write while tending the children of a superintendent from one of the local mines. “Let me help you with your schoolwork,” Margaret said when the children came home from school. Understanding her meaning, the children taught her to read from their schoolbooks. During this time, Margaret was baptized into the Church …

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Larry Gibson and Kayford Mountain (Mountain-top Removal)

We walked along a path in the forest until Larry stopped and pointed down. The earth had begun to gape, opening up to an intricate beehive of tunnels in the ground below. Larry estimated it went down six hundred feet: “It may go one hundred feet that way, forty feet that way, and meanders about.” When he first found it, the mine crack was five inches wide. By the time of our interview, it had pulled apart to a foot …

 

Ghost Towns

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins I arrived in Scofield on a fall afternoon when the hills were sprinkled with rows of gold-leafed quaking aspens, set off by the green-black of pines. I got out of my vehicle and shivered. The air had a cold, moist edge. I hesitantly jiggled the door of the saloon, unsure about entering if it yielded. I pressed my face up against the window to peer inside. Above the bar a sign …

 

A Toxicologist’s Testimony Concerning a Coal-Fired Power Plant

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins Next to testify was Lara Greene, a toxicologist and chemist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She was losing her voice and waved away offers of water, claiming it wouldn’t help. She began by stating that Mirant had given her and her colleagues a grant to study the problem. As a scientist employed by a power plant, she chose her words carefully in her testimony: “Anybody who lives in Marina …

 

Emylyn’s Memories

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins At this cue from his wife, Emylyn opened his pale, dry lips and began to spin a monologue: “My father worked a seam of twenty-four inches that ran for miles.” In a calm, even cadence and a clear Welsh accent, Emylyn told me about the mines—stories his father must have recited to him that had now been tailored by his own telling. He was a good and steady raconteur, having obviously …

 

Sam Quigley: A Miner’s Miner

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins There are better and worse ways to run a coal mine. Several months after the Crandall Canyon accident, I traveled to central Utah to meet with the former Vice President of Operations at Andalex. Sam Quigley had quit when Robert Murray signed the deal to take over the company. The contract went through at eleven o’clock in the morning, and Sam’s office was cleaned out by noon. He was familiar with …

 

The New River

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world and one of the few, other than the Nile, that moves from south to north on the globe. It curves through mountains covered with thick greenery that slants up on either side, and in the spring and summer months professional river guides steer groups of four to twelve tourists straddling bright colored inner tubes through the rapids. After I …

 

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