Arthur McIvor and Ronald Johnston explore the experience of coal miners' lung diseases and the attempts at voluntary and legal control of dusty conditions in British mining from the late nineteenth century to the present. In this way, the book addresses the important issues of occupational health and safety within the mining industry; issues that have been severely neglected in studies of health and safety in general. The authors examine the prevalent diseases, notably pneumoconiosis, emphysema and bronchitis, and evaluate the roles of key players such as the doctors, management and employers, the state and the trade unions. Throughout the book, the integration of oral testimony helps to elucidate the attitudes of workers and victims of disease, their 'machismo' work culture and socialisation to very high levels of risk on the job, as well as how and why ideas and health mentalities changed over time. This research, taken together with extensive archive material, provides a unique perspective on the nature of work, industrial relations, the meaning of masculinity in the workplace and the wider social impact of industrial disease, disability and death. The effects of contracting dust disease are shown to result invariably in seriously prescribed lifestyles and encroaching isolation. The book will appeal to those working on the history of medicine, industrial relations, social history and business history as well as labour history.
’Methodologically, one of the most innovative aspects of this excellent history is the use of oral histories. The compelling first-person testimony enriches our understanding of the miners’ culture, lived experience, and attitudes about life on the job... This splendid volume will be of great interest to historians of business, labor, and occupational health.’ Enterprise and Society ’This volume is an excellent example of multidisciplinary research.’ Australian Economic History Review ’The book will appeal to those interested in the history of respiratory medicine, industrial relations, worker social history, and business history. People in worker-protection and the development of regulations and standards, both in developing and developed economies, at coal mines and in other hazardous industries, would do well to read this book and have it available for reference. This erudite volume is well organized, clearly written, and is dense with facts, commentary, and interpretation. The writing style is engaging... The strength of this book is the oral testimony and its placement into the context of the medical, social, economic climate of the time.’ Respiratory Care ’The authors have provided a great service to the many thousands who have been killed by pneumoconiosis and silicosis, and those who are still campaigning for compensation. Miners' Lung is an outstanding book that succeeds in the authors' aim of a 'synthesis of medical history, business history, labour history and oral history'. The book could well represent a turning point in coal historiography through its use of the body as an exploration of miners' identity, culture, and politics.’ Labour History Review