Community and labor organizer Mitch Troutman brings this explosive and accessible American tale to life through the bootleggers’ own words. Activists, scholars, and organizers will celebrate this story of the people who literally seized mountains and stood their ground to create the equalization movement, the miners’ union democracy movement, and the Communist-led Unemployed Councils of the anthracite region. This epic story of work, love, and community stands as a testament to the power of collective action; a story that is sorely needed as communities today rise to confront neoliberal policies ravaging our planet.
“It is not a new discovery that ‘bootleg’ coal was widely mined in Pennsylvania coal fields during the Depression. However, Troutman’s wide-ranging research enables him to tell the story with great immediacy, at times almost person by person. We learn how dangerous this improvised mining could be when we are told in detail how often inexperienced young men (and a few women) went forth to scrape what was left off old shafts or seek to open up new veins of coal without being able properly to support the roof under which they dug. We watch as every member of the family of unemployed miners has a task capable of performance at their age in the improvised production process.” —Staughton and Alice Lynd
Mitch Troutman is a writer, educator, organizer, and jack-of-all-trades living in Central Pennsylvania. He is a direct descendent of bootleg coal miners and belongs to the group Anthracite Unite.