Books for changing the world
Set the Earth on Fire
The Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902 and the Birth of the Police

An eye-opening account of the Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, showing how the strike—and the violent backlash that ensued—reveal the genesis of modern policing.

In the early years of the twentieth century, in the coalfields of eastern Pennsylvania, nearly 150,000 miners took part in one of the most critical events in the history of US labor organizing. The brutal response by the state of Pennsylvania—as well as the federal government—inaugurated the structure and power of policing that we know today.

In this gripping account of the Great Anthracite Coal Strike of 1902, scholar and activist David Correia takes readers through the story of the United Mine Workers of America, their struggle against systems of private policing—which were present in practically every industry in the US—and the development of public, professionalized, state-sanctioned, and state-serving police.

The demands of their strike included shorter work days, higher wages, and safer conditions in the deadly mines. However, their labor was crucial to westward expansion, colonial occupations in the Caribbean and the Philippines, and many burgeoning industries in the US. To keep the fires of capitalism burning, industrialists prodded state and federal governments to intervene. Together, they established the first uniformed police force of its kind—a model soon emulated in other states.

  • "David Correia has excavated a trove of forgotten or little-known history from the hard coal of Pennsylvania, culminating in the question that remains with us today— just who are the police meant to protect and serve?" —John Sayles

    "This terrific book documents coal operators’ violent deployment of private industrial police to infiltrate anthracite coal miners’ organizing and defeat their 1902 strike. Convinced that a public police force would ensure greater 'professionalism,' Progressive Era reformers subsequently secured taxpayer financing—and the legitimated use of violence—for state police who to this day undermine workers’ power, especially during strikes. Drawing on miners’ own words, Correia vividly brings to life this intense and far-reaching struggle. His passionate writing and fierce analysis make for historical story telling at its best. This book is vital for anyone interested in the nexus of labor, class relations, and the police power of the carceral state."
    —Barbara Ellen Smith, author, Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the Struggle over Black Lung Disease

    "A breath of fresh air in writing the history of working people. Correia dramatically captures the drama of class warfare in the coal fields and convincingly connects attacks on labor organizing with important questions regarding the history of public and private policing in the United States."

    —David Roediger, author recently of The Sinking Middle Class

    Praise for
    An Enemy Such as This

    "It’s been a long time since a history has touched me so deeply with its poignancy. David Correia offers a masterful original narrative that draws upon meticulous archival research and conversations and support from the Casuse family." —Jennifer Denetdale, Navajo Time

    "Correia’s book is also special because in the tradition of Howard Zinn—and Mike Davis—it is a look at settler violence from the perspective of those who were affected and those who fought back. This is not the history, to paraphrase Malcolm X, of Plymouth Rock. It is the story of the people upon whom Plymouth Rock landed." —Dave Zirin, The Progressive's Best Books of 2022

    “A brilliant tour de force bringing back to life the beloved Navajo militant Larry Casuse who died at the hands of Gallup, NM police. In doing so, David Correia traces the Casuse family history within a world-historical context of Western colonialism, both world wars, US wars against the Native Nations, and continued settler-colonialism and bordertown violence, propped up by US law. This is a breathtaking and original historical narrative that is also a page-turner.” —Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Not “A Nation of Immigrants,” Settler-Colonialism, White Supremacy and a History of Erasure and Exclusion

    Praise for Violent Order

    "...Police: A Field Guide incisively cuts through the ‘copspeak’ all around us—the language of policing that turns cattle prods into ‘non-lethal pain compliance’ and state-sanctioned sexual assault into a ‘body-cavity search.’ With this edited collection of new essays, Correia and Tyler take us deeper still. As Violent Order brilliantly elucidates, policing is not only racist and dehumanizing—it is world making, a way of fabricating capitalist racial fictions about nature and human nature. Violent Order illuminates the very nature of policing, which makes it essential reading for moving us from reform to abolition." —Naomi Murakawa, author of The First Civil Right

    "This book serves as an antidote to a range of contemporary tropes that increasingly fetishise forms of punitive-paternalism… The book also serves as a vaccine against the orthodoxy of the law-and-order mythology that has colonised almost all areas of culture and politics across the globe." —Erasmus Research

Other books by David Correia