Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Coal Wars

Coal Wars

The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet

Richard Martin

St. Martin's Press



A searching examination of the worldwide effort to shut down big coal even as the industry struggles to remain the dominant source of energy


In the spring of 2009 I stood beside a country road in northern Tennessee,
looking over the worst industrial spill in U.S. history. I was traveling with a
pair of nuclear engineers while reporting for my first book, SuperFuel, about


Praise for Coal Wars

“The race to shut down the coal industry is synonymous with the race to save the climate--and from Appalachia to inner Mongolia, brave activists are leading the fight. This comprehensive account makes it clear why their work is so crucial and so hard, pitting them against not just ingrained tradition but against some of the richest resource barons on earth.” —Bill McKibben, author of Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“Martin has managed to locate dozens of compelling personal narratives that show the human face of a debate that is too often reduced-by environmentalists as much as by the coal industry-to numbers and yawn-inducing energy wonkery.” —Tim McDonnell, Mother Jones

“A clear-eyed and beautifully written narrative of the people, cities and companies whose lives and existence are wrapped up in the 4,000-year-old history of this iconic source of power. Coal Wars is a gripping account of the stakes at play as the world necessarily winds down its consumption of the fossil fuel. Given that the subject might be grim, it is a surprisingly enjoyable read and a unique contribution to the literature.” —Steve LeVine, author of The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World and Washington Correspondent for Quartz

“Martin chronicles his visits to a handful of places where coal is an important part of not just daily life, but the region's history and economic circumstances. A levelheaded researcher and a caring individual as well as a graceful, commanding writer, Martin is unequivocal and persuasive: The best use of coal is in holiday stockings.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Fresh and provocative, Coal Wars brings the hammer down on the world's dirtiest fuel. Richard Martin's deeply reported journey into the dark heart of coal land exposes Big Coal's big lies and offers a new approach to kicking our coal addiction. Entertaining, forceful, and full of insight, Coal Wars is must reading for a warming planet.” —Bruce Barcott, Outside magazine contributing editor and author of The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw and Weed the People

“Richard Martin's timely and powerfully written book reveals with clarity the multiple dangers emitted by coal combustion as an energy source. His journey takes him to sites around the U.S. where a number of aging and obsolete installations are being shut down as natural gas plants flourish, and to China and Germany, where coal plants are on the rise despite a growing, science-based recognition that their toxic wastes harm life and their carbon-dioxide emissions imperil ecosystems, significantly acidifying the oceans and contributing mightily to the rapid increase in climate change.” —Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Richard Martin

Richard Martin is an award-winning science writer whose work has appeared in Wired, Time, Fortune, The Atlantic, and The Best Science Writing of 2004. He is the author of SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future. He is the editorial director of Pike Research, a leading clean energy firm. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Richard Martin

Richard Martin

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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