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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Anthracite Boot Camp by Louis Ronald Scatena is the story of the author's father, Pete Scatena, and his mother Caroline, and about anthracite mining along the mountainsides where the coal seams slant upwards. This is also the true story about men struggling in a black underground world and the difficulties and hazards they faced. The memoir is also the author's story of "boot camp" training from the age of nine to seventeen in anthracite mining operations under the guidance of his father. The book chronicles the strife and hardship that prevailed in the anthracite coal fields at a time when immigration was at its peak and gives good insights into the evolution and upbringing of the miners. The story of how the miners fought for their survival underground and the survival of their impoverished families is heartbreaking.
The movie The Molly Maguires is a good one to watch to learn about the hardships of the miners and their families in the vicinity of Hazleton, which is slightly south of Wilkes Barre. Anthracite Boot Camp is straightforward and honest and Louis Ronald Scatena is vocal when it comes to sharing his story with readers by giving them glimpses of his life and the people in his life. The author's story also has its adventurous moments, one such being when he crawled with his father into an abandoned coal mine, and there are other frightening stories and fond memories shared in the memoir. The story ends when the author is 17, in the year 1959 when he left for the US Marine Corps Boot Camp after leaving the anthracite boot camp.