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Coal: A Human History ePub download

by Barbara Freese

  • Author: Barbara Freese
  • ISBN: 0738204005
  • ISBN13: 978-0738204000
  • ePub: 1319 kb | FB2: 1908 kb
  • Language: English
  • Category: Engineering
  • Publisher: Perseus Publishing; First Edition edition (January 7, 2003)
  • Pages: 320
  • Rating: 4.3/5
  • Votes: 463
  • Format: docx mbr azw lrf
Coal: A Human History ePub download

In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey that begins hundreds of millions of years ago and spans the globe. Prized as the best stone in Britain by Roman invaders who carved jewelry out of it.

In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey that begins hundreds of millions of years ago and spans the globe.

In Coal, Barbara Freese takes us on an enthralling journey, across time and across continents, using the fascination with coal and the crucial need for it as a way of approaching some of the most fundamental questions of human existence

In Coal, Barbara Freese takes us on an enthralling journey, across time and across continents, using the fascination with coal and the crucial need for it as a way of approaching some of the most fundamental questions of human existence. Prized as the best stone in Britain by Roman invaders who carved jewelry out of it, coal has transformed societies, expanded frontiers, and sparked social movements, and still powers our electric grid.

Coal : human history. by. Freese, Barbara (Barbara . Publication date. New York : Penguin Books. inlibrary; printdisabled; ; ctlibrary; china; americana. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Internet Archive Books.

Barbara Freese was Assistant District Attorney in Michigan, one of America's biggest coal producing states, for 12 years and is an expert on air pollution laws. Coal is her first book. She lives in St. Paul, Michigan with her husband and two children. Country of Publication. Current slide {CURRENT SLIDE} of {TOTAL SLIDES}- People who bought this also bought. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (Paperback, softback).

Prized as "the best stone in Britain" by Roman invaders who carved jewelry out of it, coal has transformed societies, launched empires, and expanded frontiers

In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Start by marking Coal: A Human History as Want to Read

In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey. Start by marking Coal: A Human History as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Last week on the flight to and from Denver, I consumed (via audio book, freely downloaded from my public library system) the 2004 microhistory Coal: A Human History, by Barbara Freese. It’s light on the geology, and heavy on the historical implications of coal. As with many of these sorts of books, it’s basically a compilation of related nonfictional explications of topics of diverse scope, all of which have a connection to a single subject, in this case, coal. Labor unions? Trains?

Coal: A Human History. by Barbara Freese 5 January 2006.

Coal: A Human History.

Prized as "the best stone in Britain" by Roman invaders who carved jewelry out of it, coal has transformed societies, powered navies, fueled economies, and expanded frontiers. It made China a twelfth-century superpower, inspired the writing of the Communist Manifesto, and helped the northern states win the American Civil War. Yet the mundane mineral that built our global economy -and even today powers our electrical plants-has also caused death, disease, and environmental destruction. As early as 1306, King Edward I tried to ban coal (unsuccessfully) because its smoke became so obnoxious. Its recent identification as a primary cause of global warming has made it a cause célèbre of a new kind.In this remarkable book, Barbara Freese takes us on a rich historical journey that begins three hundred million years ago and spans the globe. From the "Great Stinking Fogs" of London to the rat-infested coal mines of Pennsylvania, from the impoverished slums of Manchester to the toxic city streets of Beijing, Coal is a captivating narrative about an ordinary substance that has done extraordinary things-a simple black rock that could well determine our fate as a species.
Galanjov
For those interested in world history, this book fills in many blanks. It is a pleasurable read, full of innumerable factoids and insights about how coal has affected human history. It also adds information about the transition from England to the U.S., one that involves coal, wood and the increasing thrust for power. I've read other books on coal. I don't think that there is a better one than this one.

Things really start with the Chinese, but that is disclosed in a later chapter of the book. For the most part, the book focuses on Britain, then the United States. It tells us that the Romans did a bit of burning coal in Britain, but after they left, centuries of the Dark Ages recorded no further progress. But when England awakes by the 1500s, and begins to burn through most of its wood, and as it adds more and more people, it becomes the first western nation to mine and burn coal in large quantities. This, of course, eventually leads to "a coal-fired industrial revolution."

Interestingly, most of the coal land in England early on was owned by the Catholic Church. But as most coal on the surface was gathered, and getting to the stuff deeper in the ground required a more extensive operation, The Church was not really up to the task. When Henry VIII decided to become the head of the Church of England, that really freed things up. The richest coal lands in the country now became property of the crown. English merchants and industrialists took over from there.

By 1700, the city of Newcastle, in northeastern England, had been producing coal for more than a century. Expanding mines would produce more coal than ever, as rural immigrants came to the area for work. The book paints a horrible picture of the life of the coal miners, who worked in cramped, dark, cold and wet, underground conditions. Tunnels collapsed, explosions occurred, water rushed into the mines, poisonous gas would kill. But the Newcastle coal mines were thought to be inexhaustible, and, per the book, "by 1700, Britain was mining five times more coal than the rest of the world, combined." The demand for it was becoming insatiable.

As the mine shafts and tunnels went deeper underground, water entered and needed to be extracted. This was a tedious task, first done by manpower, then by horsepower. But what got things turned around was the invention of the steam engine.

By the 1760s, steam engines, fueled by coal, itself, were doing the work of fifty horses, each, pumping water out of coal mines all over England and Scotland. Then, James Watt came along to improve the fuel efficiency of the pumps and their horsepower. His engines were suitable, as well, for factories. Between 1780 and 1830, people would move in droves to the cities to join the industrial workforce. Britain was producing 80% of the world's coal, and the epicenter of its output was to become Manchester, with its production of cotton cloth and other finished goods.
Coal was the base of things. It supplied all the fuel for the factories. It was used in the homes for heat, and it was used for cooking, as well. Manchester had factories with more than a thousand workers, each, and the steam engine encouraged increasingly larger economies of scale. Additionally, heated or baked coal was the source of gas lighting, with the gas being piped to the factories to supply bright lighting. The shifts in the mines were twelve hours. There was no place for public parks or recreation areas in Newcastle or Manchester. The air of the cities was thick with smoke. The average life expectancy was only seventeen years.

Coal also fueled the steam engines on the ships that moved coal from its source to the factories. Canals were built, then, eventually, came the railroads. It was all about the movement of coal to the factories. The city of London developed into the hub of Britain's industrial output.
With the population of London going from about 200,000 in 1600 to one million in 1800, it had become the largest city in the world by 1750. It became ten times larger than Manchester. By 1860, it would house three million. But like Manchester, the air of London was foul, with smoke and dust everywhere.

Then came the opportunities of a new land. Masses of British workers saw their escape from the crowded slums of Manchester and London via a voyage across the Atlantic to a land of fresh air and free land. In fact, when arriving in American, the colonists found an endless supply of lumber. This would serve as an early export product on the immigrant ships returning to England, where wood continued to be in short supply. The colonists had no need to search for coal, but, in time, the new nation would realize that below its land was the largest concentrations of coal in the world.

Just as coal fueled the British industrial revolution, so it would in America. The state of Pennsylvania was full of the stuff, as were the Appalachians to the south. The city of Philadelphia would become the nation's largest and richest city. And, just as had been the case in England, the supply of wood would be tested and reduced. With the price of wood rising, Americans turned more and more to coal as a source for power and heat. Canals were built, and the railroads, which first burned wood, made their transition to coal. Huge factories developed, and the population began to shift from small towns to urban centers. Again, the pattern was similar to that of England.

American's second industrial revolution was built on coal. By the late 1890s, America led the world in coal production. (Recently, China has gained this honor.) Britain and Germany fell behind. Few could imagine that progress in the world was not dependent on coal.
The book covers the developments of coal in the world wars, and it tells us of the beginnings of the use of petroleum products. It covers the problems caused by sulfur dioxide and the industry's efforts to reject regulations. But it reminds us that, even today, coal is responsible for the production of half of our nation's electricity. And it tells us of the shift in the major source of America's coal from West Virginia to Wyoming.

There is a chapter on the history of coal in China. Then, the book ends with a summary/review chapter, named, "A Burning Legacy." Again, it tells us that coal took Britain from a rural nation to a world-class commercial power. It made London the largest city in the world. The steam engine and the railway expanded things, as coal provided cheap iron and steel for all kinds of things that advanced the western world.

"Coal, A Human History." I recommend it.
Vrion
As with most of my reviews I get about a third or halfway through a book and declare it one the best books I could imagine reading; 'Coal: A Human History' is no exception. Just the sheer background of info starting with its formation, discovery and industrialization make it a book not to be put down or taken lightly. The ancillary history lessons one gets from reading 'one subject' books like these are just priceless, in my opinion. The Industrial Revolutions of both England and the U.S. dependencies on coal are explored here in pretty good detail to my liking. At these affordable prices you should pick up a copy of 'Coal' to see for yourself. Barbara Freese has done a very good thing here.
SoSok
There is much less advocacy here than in (the terrible) Coal River or (the good) Moving Mountains, but just as much information, both scientific and historical, primarily the latter. Freese is a former assistant attorney general of Minnesota who reasons rather than assails. She reasons (correctly, I believe) that we humans use energy from the sun to function. "Life on earth is, in short, a vast and sophisticated system for capturing, converting, storing and moving solar energy." As a nascent civilization developed, humans used solar-source energy stored in recently dead plants and animals to power their lives. Those resources limit the population that the earth can support. For example, a small cabin in a temperate climate (like that of West Virginia) uses about 15 cords of firewood per year, which is the output of just under an acre. (One cord equals 128 cubic feet.) In England, where coal was first mined, the forests were vanishing at an alarming rate. Up to that point, we were "spending the interest," the current solar energy converted.

And then came coal, solar-source energy from long-dead plants which had stored energy collected over millions of years, and which let us begin profligately spending the principal. There was (and is) so much coal that until the mid-20th Century, it was considered functionally infinite. Even the oil industry was made possible with the power of coal. The dependence on coal is alarming - fully half of the electricity that we use comes from coal. The environmental effects have crept up to an alarming point. On an average day in the Eastern United States, you can see fourteen miles, due to tiny sulfate particulates that scatter sunlight. Without human-made air pollution, you could see forty-five-plus miles.

Freese discusses fairly the dispute about mountain top/valley fill mining, that it is "pitting those who want to hang on to dwindling coal jobs against those who hate to see their mountains and valleys forever altered."

Whether you are a conservationist, an industrialist, or both, if you believe in Vince Lombardi's "back to basics" approach, this book has great value.
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