Coal: A Human History

In the summer of 1306, bishops and barons and knights from all around England left their country manors and villages and journeyed to London.

It wasn’t completely the non-fiction that felt like history/school books, but sometimes it got very close. When it didn’t, it was an interesting and possibly confronting pamphlet about the environment and what humankind does to it. And what a bizarre influence coal had on the development of societies. Who would have known?

From deforesting to coal lobbies getting their American president, for something so mundane, coal left severe traces. Barbara Freese is in environmental law as an assistant attorney general, and doesn’t mince words. Which is -sadly- refreshing, climate change and environmental issues so often being handed with kid gloves instead of reality checks. And she does more than preach doom, she looks at (other) options.

All this means the reader gets a bunch of knowledge directed at them, but always in a considerate, usually light, way. No needs arise to prepare for the test soon, although an environmental-related pub quiz may be aced after reading this.

Coal: A Human History, Barbara Freese, Perseus Publications 2003

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