King Coal (Heathen Edition) Paperback

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Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), “a self-described socialist propagandist,” was an American writer who wrote nearly one hundred books and other works in several genres. Sinclair's work was well known and popular in the first half of the twentieth century due to his desire to expose what he referred to as "the 'wage slavery' of workers,” acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906), which exposed labor and sanitary conditions in the U.S. meatpacking industry, causing a public uproar that contributed to the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. After hearing of the deadly Colorado Fuel and Iron strike, also known as the Ludlow Massacre on April 20, 1914, a strike identified as "one of the most grueling, longlasting industrial conflicts in the history of the United States,” Sinclair focused his attention on the coal mining industry with King Coal, resulting in what scholar R.N. Mookerjee refers to as a "very successful and effective fusion of journalistic excellence and creative imagination," and believes it "is undoubtedly one of Sinclair's more artistic achievements.”


Either dictated by early twentieth-century American grammar style or maybe it was just personal preference, Mr. Sinclair used hyphenated words in extreme abundance throughout the original text. Being the Heathens that we are, we felt those hyphened words were dated, tedious, and trying for today’s eyes, so we opted to edit and update those words to reflect their modern usage. For example, “star-dust” has become “stardust” and “to-morrow” has become “tomorrow.”

He also chose to hyphenate many coal mining terms that are not, in fact, hyphenated, even when compared to literature from the time, so we edited those words as well. That’s how a “check-weighman” becomes a “checkweighman” and a “pit-boss” becomes a “pit boss.”

And since we were editing the text anyway, we chose to jettison Sinclair’s use of British spellings in favor of their American counterparts.

Had we realized beforehand the amount of work involved to make all of those changes, we most certainly never would have begun. However, now that it’s finished, we’re most confident that our version of King Coal is easier on the eyes and a far more enjoyable read as a result.

Indeed, we think Hal sung it best: Hurrah for you and me!


The roar of the mob rolled down the street and back again. “We’ll not stand it! We’ll not stand it!” Men shook their clenched fists, women shrieked, even children shouted curses. “We’ll fight them! We’ll slave no more for them!”

And Mary found a magic word. “We’ll have a union!” she shouted. “We’ll get together and stay together! If they refuse us our rights, we’ll know what to answer – we’ll have a strike!”

There was a roar like the crashing of thunder in the mountains. Yes, Mary had found the word! For many years it had not been spoken aloud in North Valley, but now it ran like a flash of gunpowder through the throng. “Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!” It seemed as if they would never have enough of it. Not all of them had understood Mary’s speech, but they knew this word, “Strike!” They translated and proclaimed it in Polish and Bohemian and Italian and Greek. “Strike! Strike! Strike!”

Publisher : Heathen Editions; Illustrated edition (September 16, 2018)

Language : English

Paperback : 358 pages

ISBN-10 : 1948316021

ISBN-13 : 978-1948316026

Item Weight : 1.01 pounds

Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches