ONE SUNSET A WEEK: The Story of a Coal Miner by George Vecsey

ONE SUNSET A WEEK: The Story of a Coal Miner

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Dan Sizemore the ""wise old foreman"" of the Big Ridge is not exactly your typical Appalachian coal miner. Vecsey must have combed all the hollows of Virginia to find him -- a miner who reads Dickens and Das Kapital, rails against the profit system and characterizes himself as an American Marxist. He's been a miner for 36 years; he started out as a hard-driving bully for the owners but enough time watching men choking on coal dust changed his politics. Now he believes that the mines should be publicly owned and that the Appalachian coal region, balkanized among Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee, should be combined into a single state -- with the power and profits staying home. The men Dan works with are still having trouble collecting for black lung; mines remain unsafe; few pin any real hope on the NMU; even the dumbest hillbillies feel betrayed by everyone from the politicians on down. ""It's the same old shit. Profit rules everything,"" says Dan succinctly. Vecsey obviously put in a lot of time with the Sizemores -- there are six kids at home and two sons in Toronto who fled Vietnam and the draft -- and came away with a very human, deeply felt book focused mainly on one exceptional and courageous family but touching all that concerns this depressed, benighted community. It's in the tradition of Caudill's classic Night Comes to the Cumberlands and just as affecting.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1974
Publisher: Saturday Review Press/Dutton