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Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917 Hardcover – August 8, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 312 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this compelling tale, Punke recounts the grim details of the worst hard-rock mining disaster in United States history. On June 8, 1917, a fire broke out in the main shaft of a huge complex of copper mines 2,000 feet beneath Granite Mountain in Butte, Mont. The fire raged for three days, killing 164 of the 400 or so men at work that day. Punke, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and novelist (The Revenant), takes the reader deep underground and into the heart of the calamity. If the horrifying account of the fire and the trapped men is the heart of this yarn, its soul is Punke's historical contextualization of the event. He paints a vivid picture of a city, state and nation in the grip of industrial monopolies. In Butte, copper was king and Standard Oil, in the guise of Anaconda Mining, owned most of the copper (though not the Granite Mountain mine). In Punke's telling, Standard Oil spent lavishly to control the municipal and state governments; they aggressively fought the miners' union. Immediately after the tragic fire, the workers violently vented their fury on the hated Anaconda. Like the hardworking miners he writes about, Punke gets the job done, with sturdy prose. (Aug. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

By the standards of the early twentieth century, the Granite Mountain copper mine was a model of safety; the shafts were well ventilated and a sprinkler system was nearly completed. Furthermore, the mine was owned by the North Butte Company, which was neither as powerful nor as resented as the rapacious Anaconda Copper Mining Company, which controlled much of Montana. Nevertheless, when a shaft fire broke out on June 8, 1917, it unleashed a variety of pent-up hatreds that had festered in Butte for months, if not years. Initially, the fire trapped more than 400 men beneath the surface. One hundred sixty-four people died, and Punke's recounting of the struggle of the others to survive is tense, exciting, and even inspiring. A lawyer, novelist, and Montana resident, he tells an equally interesting story of the ethnic conflicts, anti-war protests, and labor warfare that quickly exploded and ravaged the area for the next three years. This is a timely work, with the recent spate of fatal mine disasters reminding us that deep-shaft mining remains a dangerous profession. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Hachette Books; Annotated edition (August 8, 2006)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 140130155X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1401301552
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 18 years and up
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.48 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 9.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 312 ratings

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Michael Punke serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also served on the White House National Security Council staff and on Capitol Hill. He was formerly the history correspondent for "Montana Quarterly, "and an adjunct professor at the University of Montana. He is the author of "Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mine Disaster of 1917, "and "Last Stand: George Bird Grinnell, the Battle to Save the Buffalo, and the Birth of the New West. "His family home is in Montana.

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
312 global ratings

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Top reviews from other countries

Alexander Bryce
4.0 out of 5 stars Too much detail?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 24, 2017
3 people found this helpful
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Romo
5.0 out of 5 stars Leute, lest Punke!
Reviewed in Germany 🇩🇪 on August 14, 2016
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lectrice anglophone
4.0 out of 5 stars ".. we done the best we could but the cards were against us."
Reviewed in France 🇫🇷 on July 2, 2016
AK
4.0 out of 5 stars as i am a big fan of miguel punke after ...
Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on December 25, 2016
Paul
2.0 out of 5 stars Spends too much time on american politics after the event (right up to the 40s and 70s)
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on August 21, 2018