Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917

Michael Punke, Author . Hyperion $24.95 (338p) ISBN 978-1-4013-0155-2

In this compelling tale, Punke recounts the grim details of the worst hard-rock mining disaster in United States history. On June 8, 1917, a fire broke out in the main shaft of a huge complex of copper mines 2,000 feet beneath Granite Mountain in Butte, Mont. The fire raged for three days, killing 164 of the 400 or so men at work that day. Punke, a Washington, D.C., lawyer and novelist (The Revenant ), takes the reader deep underground and into the heart of the calamity. If the horrifying account of the fire and the trapped men is the heart of this yarn, its soul is Punke's historical contextualization of the event. He paints a vivid picture of a city, state and nation in the grip of industrial monopolies. In Butte, copper was king and Standard Oil, in the guise of Anaconda Mining, owned most of the copper (though not the Granite Mountain mine). In Punke's telling, Standard Oil spent lavishly to control the municipal and state governments; they aggressively fought the miners' union. Immediately after the tragic fire, the workers violently vented their fury on the hated Anaconda. Like the hardworking miners he writes about, Punke gets the job done, with sturdy prose. (Aug. 8)

Reviewed on: 05/22/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
Show other formats
Paperback - 338 pages - 978-1-4013-0889-6
Hardcover - 229 pages - 978-0-316-40892-9
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4013-0571-0
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.