Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain (Paperback)
  • Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain (Paperback)
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Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain (Paperback)

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RRP £10.99
£9.49
Paperback 320 Pages
Published: 12/05/2022
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Waterstones Says

From Roman Britain to twentieth-century picket lines, the popular author and broadcaster mines a rich seam of social history in the compelling tale of how coal powered the British nation.

Where would Britain be without coal? In brilliant social history, Jeremy Paxman tells the story of how the black stuff has shaped every aspect of Britain.

Coal is the commodity that made Britain. Dirty and polluting though it is, this black rock acted as a midwife to genius. It drove industry, religion, politics, empire, trade. It powered the industrial revolution, turned Britain into the first urban nation and is the industry that made almost all others possible.

In this brilliant social history, bestselling author and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman tells the story of coal mining in England, Scotland and Wales from Roman times, through the birth of steam power to war, nationalisation, pea-souper smogs, industrial strife and the picket lines of the Miner's Strike.

Written in the captivating style of his bestselling book The English, Paxman ranges widely across Britain to explore stories of engineers and inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists, and the aristocrats such as the Marquises of Bute whose wealth ballooned after the discovery of coal seams beneath their blessed acres.

But whilst the rich inevitably became richer, the story told by Black Gold is first and foremost a history of the working miners - the men, women and often children who toiled in appalling conditions down in the mines; the villages that were thrown up around the pit-head; the brass bands, nonconformist religion and passionate horticulture that flourished in mining communities. And the development of trade unionism and the Labour movement as tight bonds of comradeship were formed underground. 'The two greatest industrial strikes of the 20th century - both detailed here - were both about coal.

Down the mineshafts, conditions were appalling with little or no time spent on safety. Multiple and tragically frequent pit tragedies including Aberfan are catalogued here. As Engels put it: 'there is no occupation in which a man may meet his end in so many diverse ways as this one'.

Almost all traces of coal-mining have vanished from Britain but with this brilliant history, Black Gold demonstrates just how much we owe to the black stuff.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
ISBN: 9780008128364
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 310 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 26 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Praise for Jeremy Paxman's The English:

'Intelligent, well-written, informative and funny ... A book to chew on, dip into, quote from and exploit in arguments' - Andrew Marr, The Observer

'Bursting with good things' - Daily Telegraph

Praise for Jeremy Paxman's Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British:

'Paxman is witty, incisive, acerbic and opinionated ... In short, he carries the whole thing off with panache' - Piers Brendon, Sunday Times

'Paxman is a magnificent historian, and Empire may be remembered as his finest work' - Independent on Sunday

Praise for Jeremy Paxman's A Life in Questions:

'Funny, sad and revealing' - David Aaronovitch, The Times

'Eye-opening ... An entertaining and anecdote-rich book' - Daily Express

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“Black Gold--Jeremy Paxman: Highly Recommended”

I grew up up in the South Wales valleys, with relatives and friends who worked in the mining industry . A half-century or so ago I also worked on a research project on the South Wales coalfield. After reading... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 21

“An enlightening cultural history.”

Having previously read Jeremy's books on the British Empire and the First World War and found them very rewarding to read, I was happy to give a chance to what otherwise sounded like a book regarding a niche... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 20

“Meh”

Somehow , someway, I had a sneaking suspicion good ol' Paxo would find a way to take a dig at Trump in a book about coal in Britain. You'll find it six lines from the bottom on page 327. Unbelievable.... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 6

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