This eBook edition of “Germinal” has been formatted to the highest digital standards and adjusted for readability on all devices. Germinal is an uncompromisingly harsh and realistic story of a coalminers' strike in northern France in the 1860s. Étienne, young migrant worker, arrives at the forbidding coal mining town of Montsou in the bleak area of the far north of France to earn a living as a miner. Sacked from his previous job on the railways for assaulting a superior, Étienne befriends the veteran miner Maheu, who finds him somewhere to stay and gets him a job pushing the carts down the pit. The complex tangle of the miners' lives is played out against a backdrop of severe poverty and oppression, as their working and living conditions continue to worsen. Eventually, pushed to breaking point, the miners decide to strike and Étienne, now a respected member of the community and recognized as a political idealist, becomes the leader of the movement.