In this book John Hatcher has provided readers with a superb study of the prehistory of the British coal industry. "Prehistory" is the word for it, too for as he makes clear early in the book "There was no British coal industry before 1700. Nothing which remotely resembled a national industry ever existed within our period."(59) What Hatcher details instead is a series of local and regional industries which were the antecedents of the national industry that would emerge in the 18th and 19th centuries. To do so, he delves into the previously underutilized local studies of the collieries, which he integrates into the economic history of medieval and early modern England. The result is masterful account of its subject, one that is almost encyclopedic in terms of its description of nearly every aspect of coal mining and coal consumption and of enormous value to anyone interested in the subject.