KILLING FOR COAL is a labor history of miners in the southern coalfields of Colorado during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It may be considered an environmental history because it addresses (among the social, political, and cultural dimensions of labor relations between miners and capitalists) the natural and ecological dimensions and setting of the regions history. Problems would persist, but Ludlow massacre April 20, 1914 in which 18 strikers were killed including women and childrenand the retaliation by strikers known as the 10 Days War would mark the high point of bloody confrontations in the coal labor movement.The Ludlow-as-battle vs. Ludlow-as-massacre narratives have competed for salience in the historical review of the Great Colorado Coalfield War from 1913-1914 (in which there were at least 75 and maybe 100 casualties). In the end, however, Andrews argues that: To fully understand the Great Coalfield War and its significance, we need to move beyond partial memories and polarizing stories. While I appreciate the effort and work of making this an environmental history, I think it only offers a setting for rather than a convincing cause of the Ludlow Massacre and the Great Coalfield War. In other words, this is a labor history before an environmental history.
In his book, Killing for Coal: Americas Deadliest Labor War, Thomas C. With extensive archival evidence, Andrews argues that Ludlow and the Great Coalfield War were a result of half a centurys conflict between nature, consumers, large business owners, and miners. Most significantly, his argument shows that the conflict in Colorado is a microcosm of the larger labor struggle that permeates American history and society today, as well as suggests a relationship between physical energy and social power. Killing for Coal is organized into two different movements: first, the development of the mining industry in Colorado and second, the development of the miner mentality and discontent. These two movements lend understanding to the final chapter that relates the events of the Ludlow massacre and the ten-day Coalfield War. However, underlying Andrews entire argument is the premise that every event is intrinsically connected to nature. However, Andrews states that nature, particularly coal, was a form of social power that shaped Western identity, defined miners views of themselves, and ultimately gave rise to the labor conflict. Overall, Andrew succeeds in proving that Ludlow and the Great Coalfield War were a product of over fifty years events that built up tension between capitalists and laborers.
These forms of solidarity were also rooted in the intimate kinds of knowledge that miners gleaned from the earth itself; Andrews calls these spaces "workscapes," spaces that while first created to produce commodities exceed the boundaries of pure economy and become highly respected AND extractive of the environment itself.