More than a novel—an education about what will happen to the U.S. without labor unions and justice

Grisham’s “Gray Mountain” offers an education of what the United States will become without labor unions and justice.

I’ve read most if not all of John Grisham’s work, and I was not disappointed by Gray Mountain. What I really appreciated was the door he opened into a world I had no idea still existed in the United States.

If you think that working people are safe from corporate greed, you should read this book and pay attention.

While the characters and the plot carry the story along, the actual history of Appalachia and Big Coal threads its way through the novel like blood flowing through the Carotid Artery from the heart to our brain but in this case, the blood is coal and it is clogging the artery contributing to brutal poverty and causing much suffering and early deaths. I think Grisham is evolving into a muckraking author-journalist in the best tradition of the golden age of journalism.

The coal industry is plundering Appalachia. It is a tragedy what the greedy, cold blooded corporate industry is doing to both the environment and the people who live there.  The results are hundreds of mountains decapitated, forests obliterated, water polluted, wildlife displaced and people made sick with cancer, lung and heart disease, and Grisham doesn’t  spare us from any of these inhuman corporate crimes.

What has the coal industry done and what is it still doing? Let me summarize—Appalachia, a region of extraordinary beauty and natural diversity, is under attack. Mountaintop removal is strip mining on steroids—a radically destructive form of surface mining whereby coal companies bulldoze the forest, decapitate the peaks with explosives, push the shattered rubble into adjacent valleys, and destroy the ecologically crucial headwater streams that had been there before.

If you read this book—or listen to it like I did—Grisham will take you on a dangerous and dramatic ride with Samantha Kofer, a 29-year-old graduate of Georgetown and Columbia Law who was earning $180,000 a year before the story takes her from the world of big law to a non-profit, legal aid clinic in the heart of coal country.

The story Grisham paints makes clear that the labor unions that once offered some protection for the workers in this industry were broken years earlier by the crooked, brutal, greedy coal companies, and what makes this story even more tragic is that in the real world where we live, corporations and billionaire oligarchs are waging endless war against labor unions all across America to do the same thing that the coal industry did several decades ago. If you want to discover what the U.S. will look like for workers without labor unions, learn with Samantha Kofer.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Runner Up
2015 Florida Book Festival

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Honorable Mentions
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography at 2014 Southern California Book Festival

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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