“Making extensive use of local newspapers and correspondence, Arnold includes the role of mine operators as well as railroads and places conflicts in the broader geographic and historical context. Fiercely independent coal miners sought ways to protect their interests through a series of strikes in the 1880s, advocated weighman associations, and eventually formed the United Mine Workers of America. Coal operators hoped to control miners and organized the Seaboard Coal Association to obtain coal market outlets, while the railroads worked to exercise control over the needed fuel source. The chapter on the United Mine Workers in the central Pennsylvania field is particularly well done.”
"Arnold's research is excellent, and his arguments persuasive."
—The American Historical Review
"Arnold presents a deliberately complex portrait of developments. Hence, he finely depicts the complicated relations among mine owners, major railroad companies, and coal miners.”
—Journal of Interdisciplinary History
“This book remains a detailed and thorough attempt to demonstrate the risks hat historians face by focusing too heavily on the ‘winners’ within a given period of history.”
—American Nineteenth Century History
"In the end though perhaps it is more useful for us to concentrate on the disorder of the period, not some longed-for order. As Arnold so persuasively shows, disorder was the great constant of the age–and great legacy of the Gilded Age for the twentieth century."
"Fueling the Gilded Age does a fine job of integrating the fierce competition among the railroad barons with the long, uphill fight to establish the United Mine Workers."
"In this beautifully crafted new history of capitalism, Arnold shows us how rough and tumble community unionism worked in the years before unions came to the coalfields. We learn about strikes led by women, rough music, square turns, and miner’s freedoms and then how the Knights of Labor and United Mine Workers both emerged by relying on these long and deep coalfield traditions. Vital for anyone wanting to understand the relationship between international capitalism and workplace rights."
—Scott Nelson, Legum Professor of History, The College of William & Mary
"Historians interested in Pennsylvania's coal industry usually focus on the anthracite region in the east or the bituminous fields in the west; the large mining industry of central Pennsylvania (centered around Clearfield) has now found its historian in Andrew Arnold. Examining workplace practices and the roles of women, unions, strikes, the church, violence, the courts, and politics from the early 1870s to the mid-1920s, Arnold paints a complicated picture in which workers, mine supervisors, local communities, the law, the state, and the railroads that frequently owned the mines interacted in complex ways. Based on deep research in previously unexplored local manuscripts and newspapers, Arnold's well-written study restores to historical memory an important industry of which few people even in the region itself are aware."
—William Pencak, Professor Emeritus of History and Jewish Studies, Penn State University
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