Much larger than the January 6th, 2021, assault on the U. S. Capitol by supporters of Donald J. Trump attempting to prevent the election of his successor, the Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest armed uprising in the United States since the Civil War. It happened from August 25 to September 2, 1921, and involved some 10,000 union miners confronting 3,000 lawmen in an attempt to unionize all of West Virginia’s coal mines. Perhaps as many as 100 deaths and many times more arrests occurred. Then from 2009 until 2018 another Battle of Blair Mountain occurred. This time it was fought to place the battlefield on the National Register of Historic Places and thus0 prevent the mountain from being utterly destroyed by mountain-top removal coal mining. One of the union leaders of the battle 100 years ago was Frank Keeney, and one of the leaders of the twenty-first century battle was Charles B. Keeney, his great-grandson. He is the author of this book and a history professor at Sothern West Virginia Community College. “Chuck Keeney takes over where his great-grandfather left off a century ago—in a no-holds-barred fight against King Coal and its pursuit of profits over people. Keeney delivers a riveting and propulsive story about a nine-year battle to save sacred ground that was the site of the largest labor uprising in American history. You’ll find yourself rooting for Keeney from beginning to end. He unveils a powerful playbook on successful activism that will inspire countless others for generations to come.”-- Eric Eyre. “This book connects to work on twentieth-century labor history, but it is more than that. It is an insider’s thoughts on regional identity and activism as well as a reassessment of how people see Appalachia in the popular mind. When Charles Keeney speaks directly to the reader and offers advice, it resonates in a powerful and present way.” -- Steven E. Nash.
Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2021. 313 pages with an Index, Notes, Glossary and photos. Trade paperback.