The mining of coal created jobs, built towns, and powered the ships, trains, and factories, which leapfrogged the United States into one of the world’s most powerful nations. But it also snuffed out the lives of too many men and boys and left too many widows struggling to keep the rest of their families intact. In The Coal King’s Slaves, a father and his three sons face blackness, filth, hardships, and extreme danger in the anthracite coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania while the woman of their home struggles to keep her family alive. The Coal King’s Slaves, a historical novel set in the late 1800s, looks back on family life, living conditions, social barriers, industrial greed, violent confrontations, and death and destruction in the coal pits. Some saw “King Coal” as the answer to a fairly steady income. Some felt it was the mysterious force that attracted men to a dangerous occupation and a proud brotherhood of workers. And some assigned the title, with disgust, to mine owners and managers who had more concern for the well-being of mine mules than they did for human workers. The 19th century was a particularly cruel time for mining families, and the treatment they received from many owners and managers led to deadly confrontations and finally to the formation of miners’ unions. Not all bosses were cruel people, but many did lack compassion for the needs of employees, their families, their health problems, their living conditions, and their lives in general. For too many miners it was a form of slavery from which escape was difficult.