In The Bootleg Coal Rebellion: The Pennsylvania Miners Who Seized an Industry, 1925–1942, Mitch Troutman recovers the hidden history of miners who, facing mine shutdowns and growing unemployment, continued to illegally mine and sell coal using improvised methods. The book opens with a foreword by the late Staughton Lynd who, during his career, wrote extensively about grassroots workers’ movements that were often at odds with established unions, which nicely frames major issues that Troutman explores in the rest of the book. Troutman relies on a few dozen interviews conducted in the 1990s by sociologist Michael Kozura, whose father had been involved in the bootleg coal industry. Troutman also pieces together the history of this widespread but illegal activity that occurred in eastern Pennsylvania over two decades, using extensively researched newspapers and government documents.

Bootleg mining had its roots in common practices like digging coal out of company refuse piles...

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