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AFTER COAL: Stories of Survival in Appalachia & Wales, & other good reads

Our Kentucky HATH colleague and friend Nell Fields let us know about this 2018 book about coal miners from two regions of the world connecting over four decades.

“AFTER COAL is a deeply moving account of a long-term exchange between miners in the coalfields of central Appalachia and south Wales where, between 1980 and 2000, both regions lost thousands of mining jobs. Tom Hansell captures their struggles through the voices of miners and their families. He brings the reader face to face with Appalachian and Welsh coal miners whose stories will touch the reader’s heart.”-- William Ferris, author of The South in Color: A Visual Journal

AFTER COAL's author Tom Hansell is a documentary filmmaker who began his career at the Appalshop media arts center in Whitesburg KY. Appalshop has supported the work of Hands Across the Hills since 2017. Hansell's 2015 hour-long documentary titled After Coal inspired this book. Hansell has an active speaking schedule which you can check at

Reading Hansell's book recalls to me the several books that members of Hands Across the Hills read as we began our relationships with folks in Letcher County KY in fall 2017. Here are some of my favorites: Night Comes to the Cumberlands by Harry Caudill, Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia by Steven Stoll, and though it is about Louisiana not Kentucky: Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild. The film Harlan County USA by Barbara Kopple, which won the 1976 Oscar for documentary film, was also important to watch.

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