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Digging Our Own Graves


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Table of Contents


Chapter One:Whose Body?

Chapter Two: The Antiseptic Physician

Chapter Three: Where Is the Disease?

Chapter Four: The Contagious Spread of Rebellion

Chapter Five: Resistance to Disease

Chapter Six: Carry It On

Chapter Seven: Black Lung and the Politics of Union Reform

Chapter Eight: When theBills Come Due


Promotional Information

  • targeted promotion to universities and academics running courses on Appalachian industrial or labour history, with excellent potential for course adoption
  • forthcoming release of Soul Full of Coal by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hamby shows interest in the subject and potential for coverage
  • review copies and pitches to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Jacobin, the Nation, Current Affairs, the Guardian, Democracy Now!, LRB, LA Review of Books, the Ecologist, and specialist publications focused on Appalachia and the extractive industries
  • publicity and promotion in conjunction with author events
  • promotion through social media: Haymarket Books has 74k Twitter followers and 55k Facebook fans

About the Author

Barbara Ellen Smith is professor of women's and gender studies at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.


"It is unlikely that coal will be back, as promised. 4 What is clearly back, however, is the virulence of black lung disease. This is an essential book to understand that persistence and damage." —The Journal of Working Class Studies

"This book offers us a long view on the power of organizing around workplace health and safety that can help frontline workers — from teachers to grocery and sanitation workers — strategize now, but also develop long-term strategies for workplace organizing around the impacts of the less-understood, long-term impacts of COVID-19, which are going to force us to bring disability politics more centrally into workplace organizing." —Jacobin

"Barbara Ellen Smith has been conducting research on black lung and coal mining for almosthalf a century. Her scholarship is of the highest order not only in terms of its breadth and depth– her reference material runs to more than 50 pages – but also in terms of her explanation andunderstanding of complex issues across a wide variety of disciplines. She is a scholar at the top ofher game. Digging Our Own Graves was one of those books that I read slowly so I could enjoy andmarvel at the quality of its scholarship. Its prose is enlivened by the inclusion of 59 photographsby Earl Dotter of individuals and events associated with black lung disease and the mining of coal.This is a wonderful book, an example of outstanding scholarship." —BJIR

"Digging Our Own Graves is a lesson on a public health disaster.  Smith explores the deep roots of a worker power struggle in Appalachia that continues today." —Celeste Monforton
(Fellow) Collegium Ramazzini

“A valuable contribution to this important history.” —Grant Crandall

“Barbara Smith’s updated edition of her book, Digging Our Own Graves provides a significant addition to the history of the battles against black lung from its beginnings to our current efforts against resurgent severe disease.” —Bob Cohen

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