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The Price of Justice

The Price of Justice Cover

The Price of Justice

A True Story of Greed and Corruption

By Laurence Leamer

Times Books, Hardcover, 9780805094718, 432pp.

Publication Date: May 7, 2013


A nonfiction legal thriller that traces the fourteen-year struggle of two lawyers to bring the most powerful coal baron in American history, Don Blankenship, to justice

Don Blankenship, head of Massey Energy since the early 1990s, ran an industry that provides nearly half of America's electric power. But wealth and influence weren't enough for Blankenship and his company, as they set about destroying corporate and personal rivals, challenging the Constitution, purchasing the West Virginia judiciary, and willfully disregarding safety standards in the company's mines in which scores died unnecessarily.

As Blankenship hobnobbed with a West Virginia Supreme Court justice in France, his company polluted the drinking water of hundreds of citizens while he himself fostered baroque vendettas against anyone who dared challenge his sovereignty over coal mining country. Just about the only thing that stood in the way of Blankenship's tyranny over a state and an industry was a pair of odd-couple attorneys, Dave Fawcett and Bruce Stanley, who undertook a legal quest to bring justice to this corner of America. From the backwoods courtrooms of West Virginia they pursued their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and to a dramatic decision declaring that the wealthy and powerful are not entitled to purchase their own brand of law.

"The Price of Justice" is a story of corporate corruption so far-reaching and devastating it could have been written a hundred years ago by Ida Tarbell or Lincoln Steffens. And as Laurence Leamer demonstrates in this captivating tale, because it's true, it's scarier than fiction.

About the Author
Laurence Leamer is the bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including "The Kennedy Women" and "Madness Under the Royal Palms." He is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in "The New York Times Magazine," "Harper's," and "Playboy," and has written cover stories for "Newsweek." He lives in Washington, D.C., and Palm Beach, Florida.

Praise For The Price of Justice

“Laurence Leamer does a superb job of condensing this fifteen-year legal brawl into a highly readable and entertaining narrative.  Greed, arrogance, injustice, corruption – it has it all, and, sadly, it’s all true.  Fortunately, it also has some heroes.  This is a book I wish I had written.”—John Grisham

“Riveting…the tale takes more twists and turns than a country road. You really couldn’t make this stuff up.”— Greg Schneider, The Washington Post


“Includes fascinating real-life characters…Bestselling author Leamer offers a compelling nonfiction thriller…Leamer is masterful at presenting the important issues, strong personalities, political and legal machinations and economic stakes of the challenge to Massey, looking beyond the law to reveal a case about social inequities, greed, and arrogance.”Booklist (starred review)


“Riveting and compulsively readable…Leamer has produced a Shakespearean tale of greed, corporate irresponsibility, and personal hubris on one hand, and idealism, commitment to justice, and personal sacrifice on the other. Blankenship is a villain for all time, and Stanley and Fawcett are lawyers who bring honor to their profession.”­—Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“Some readers will understandably confuse the contemporary history chronicled in Laurence Leamer's The Price of Justice for compelling fiction… an expansive, clearly crafted account … Inspiring…Straightforward and elegant.”—The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 “Kafkaesque considerations lie at the heart of The Price of Justice . . . If the whole thing reads like a Grisham novel, don’t be surprised; Grisham based The Appeal on many facts of the case. But it is a testament to Leamer’s ability to capturing both the characters and the local West-Virginian ethos (he himself had worked in the mines while penning a piece in the early 70’s) that the story functions just as well, if not more so, as nonfiction.”The Daily Beast

The Price of Justice is the nail-biting, harrowing story of two courageous trial lawyers facing down corporate greed, Wall Street law firms, powerful politicians and corrupt judges in the hardscrabble and dangerous coal fields of West Virginia to protect the safety of miners and the health of our nation. I have nothing but admiration for these lawyers and this modern-day David and Goliath tale.”—Morris Dees, Founder and Chief Trial Counsel, Southern Poverty Law Center

"Laurence Leamer has produced a masterful legal thriller that will stun readers at every page.  He tells a riveting story of intrigue, corrupt politics, and the corrosive effects of power if left unchecked.  But  the real story is about a pair of vigilant lawyers who ensure that in America's democracy—even in its back-country courthouses—justice can't be sold to the highest bidder.  Leamer's new book is a tour-de-force; it will stand up against the best legal dramas of our time."—Ken Gormley, bestselling author of The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr


“Don Blankenship and Massey Energy have caused catastrophic environmental damage in Appalachia. But thanks to two intrepid lawyers, there is hope in the ravaged land.  The Price of Justice is bound to be an environmental  and legal classic."—Bobby Kennedy Jr., senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council and President, Waterkeeper Alliance