As a writer and radio correspondent who has worked in Appalachia, Jeff Biggers knows well the public history of our ruinous fling with coal. That history became personal for him when a strip mine tore up the land in southern Illinois where his ancestors had lived for two hundred years. The first victims of the craving for coal — or, more precisely, the craving for money to be made from coal — were the native people, such as the Shawnee and Kickapoo, many of whom had been displaced to Illinois from homelands farther east, and who were displaced again when the reservations they had been granted in Illinois turned out to contain mineral riches. The next victims were African-American slaves, often smuggled into the Illinois mining country under the guise of indentured servants.
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Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland
Award-winning journalist and cultural historian Jeff Biggers takes us on a journey into the secret history of coal mining. Reckoning at Eagle Creek digs deep into the tangled roots of the coal industry beginning with the policies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. It chronicles the removal of Native Americans, and the hidden story of legally sanctioned the enslavement of African Americans. It uncovers a century of regulatory negligence, vividly describing the epic mining wars for union recognition and workplace safety, and the devastating environmental consequences of industrial strip-mining. But Biggers is a long-time warrior in another fight—to stabilize climate and preserve a good life for young people. Let us hope his message about dirty coal is read far and wide. What a story!
Reckoning at Eagle Creek
Set in the ruins of his family's strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, award-winning journalist and historian Jeff Biggers delivers a deeply personal portrait of the overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation's dirty energy policy. Beginning with the policies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, chronicling the removal of Native Americans and the hidden story of legally sanctioned black slavery in the land of Lincoln, Reckoning at Eagle Creek vividly describes the mining wars for union recognition and workplace safety, and the devastating consequences of industrial strip-mining. At the heart of our national debate over climate change and the crucial transition toward clean energy, Biggers exposes the fallacy of "clean coal" and shatters the marketing myth that southern Illinois represents the "Saudi Arabia of coal.
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