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"Just when it looks as if good historical political economy might perish from the earth, along comes Sean Patrick Adams with a study of politics, coal, slavery, and industrialization that is so readable, so compelling, and so richly contextualized that even the most resistant cultural historians should find it immensely rewarding. This is the definitive account of how and why the coal trade developed as it did in Virginia and Pennsylvania. This is history—political, economic, and cultural history—at its finest."

"For anyone interested in state policies, paths of economic development, and antebellum political economy, this study is necessary reading."

"Adams's innovative study has opened up a new arena for investigation and, judging from the richness of his analysis, one with great potential."

"Adams makes good use of the available primary and secondary sources in support of his thesis."

"Historians of many fields will want to take note."

"Explaining the troubled present is not Adam's objective, but his book provides a powerful tool for doing just that."

"As with any successful study, this one answers some questions and provokes others... One hopes that rather than this being the last word on the subject, it serves as a call for further investigation."

"An engaging and persuasive work that addresses in a highly accessible manner the intricacies of state-level politics and economic decision-making."

"Thoroughly researched, attractively written, and nicely produced, with clear maps and useful data graphs."

"An impressive exemplar of comparative history. Adams is a gifted writer with an excellent eye for detail."

"Profoundly powerful insights into the importance of political and economic institutions."

"This is economic history as it should be written... Adams has created an important and highly readable interpretation of Virginia and Pennsylvania's economic history in the early and mid-1800s, and I commend him."

"Rooted in impressive scholarship in the archives, and with a sound knowledge and understanding of the secondary sources, it merits a wide readership."