Black Gold: The History of How Coal Made Britain: Unabridged edition

By Jeremy Paxman, Read by Jeremy Paxman

From the bestselling historian and acclaimed broadcaster

‘A rich social history … Paxman’s book could hardly be more colourful, and I enjoyed each page enormously’ DOMINIC SANDBROOK, SUNDAY TIMES

‘Vividly told … Paxman’s fine narrative powers are at their best’ THE TIMES

Coal is the commodity that made Britain. Dirty and polluting though it is, this black rock has acted as a midwife to genius. It drove industry, religion, politics, empire and trade. It powered the industrial revolution, turned Britain into the first urban nation and is the industry that made almost all others possible.

In this brilliant social history, Jeremy Paxman tells the story of coal mining in England, Scotland and Wales from Roman times, through the birth of steam power to war, nationalisation, pea-souper smogs, industrial strife and the picket lines of the Miner’s Strike.

Written in the captivating style of his bestselling book The English, Paxman ranges widely across Britain to explore stories of engineers and inventors, entrepreneurs and industrialists – but whilst coal inevitably helped the rich become richer, the story told by Black Gold is first and foremost a history of the working miners – the men, women and often children who toiled in appalling conditions down in the mines; the villages that were thrown up around the pit-head.

Almost all traces of coal-mining have vanished from Britain but with this brilliant history, Black Gold demonstrates just how much we owe to the black stuff.

Format: Audio-Book
Release Date: 30 Sep 2021
Pages: None
ISBN: 978-0-00-812837-1
Detailed Edition: Unabridged edition
Jeremy Paxman was born in 1950 and studied English Literature at Cambridge. Unable to get another job, he became a BBC reporter and then a studio presenter. Over a quarter-century on Newsnight, he revolutionised the cosy relationship between interviewer and politician and, more than any other interviewer, took the side of the viewer against the guest. He is also quizmaster on University Challenge, has written and presented television series such as Empire, The Victorians, Great Britain’s Great War, and is the author of numerous articles for many publications . He has also written many books including the best-selling The English, On Royalty and Friends in High Places. In his spare time, he enjoys fly-fishing.

”'[A] rich social history … Given coal’s image, a popular history might seem a foolhardy undertaking. Yet Paxman’s book could hardly be more colourful, and I enjoyed every page enormously … A mining community, as Paxman points out, was not just a place of dirt and danger. It was a 'place where you slept and ate, visited the doctor, fell in love, had your children and entertained yourself” - … One day soon, Paxman says, we may forget it was ever there. But his book does a fine job of bringing it alive, and deserves the widest possible readership’Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

‘A rich seam of history … Coal made Britain top nation, but we don’t talk about it much … Much more than the story of an industry: it is a history of Britain from an unusual angle, vividly told, that throws new light on familiar features of our national landscape … Paxman’s fine narrative powers are at their best in his account of [miner’s strikes] … From its beginnings to its end, the industry that made our country what it is, for good and ill, was a brutal business. Paxman is determined that we should not forget it’Emma Duncan, The Times -

‘[A] terrific history … Paxman is not afraid to call out poor behaviour … A rich seam for acerbic Paxman’Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday -

‘A really interesting, timely book’Steve Wright, BBC Radio 2 -

‘The history of coal in Britain might not sound immediately gripping, but it was. Paxo brings it all to life - the men, women and children toiling in the dark, in conditions no one could endure today. The courage of those communities shines from every page’Conn Iggulden, Daily Express -

‘Filled with fun facts … Jeremy Paxman is particularly good at explaining why coal mattered so much. He has a sharp pen, and a good eye for detail’Daily Telegraph -

‘Paxman tells a good story and he doesn’t mind who knows it. Ebullient and condescending at the same time, he is particularly good on set pieces’New Statesman -