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Publisher's Summary

After its publication in 1962, Harry M. Caudill’s acclaimed portrait of the southern Appalachian Mountains became a rallying cry for action against the poverty plaguing the region. Here Caudill explores the area’s history, from its first settlement to the Civil War, and from the rise of coal barons to the economic despair of the 1950s and 1960s.
©2001 Anne F. Caudill (P)2012 Recorded Books
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Critic Reviews

“[A] masterpiece of cogent argument for specific solutions to specific problems.” (Kirkus Reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Marc L on 09-11-17

Essential For Those Who Care About Eastern KY

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes! This book should be essential reading for anyone who plans to work or live in the Appalachian region, especially Eastern Kentucky. I know this book was released in 1963, but in many aspects time has, unfortunately, stood still in the Cumberlands. Many of the problems that confronted the region in 1963 still harass the population today, and have perhaps grown worse. Harry M. Caudill does a great job at relaying the history of the region, and explains how the culture of the region was formed, much of which was unknown by me, and I was born and raised in that region.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The only character in this book is really Appalachia/Eastern KY, itself, and its population. You will be at times awed, inspired, and enraged over the treatment of Eastern Kentucky's land and people. A chapter is entitled "The Rape of Appalachia", but in complete honesty that title could apply to a vast majority of this book.

What does Ed Sala bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Ed Sala does a masterful performance at articulating the tone of this book, and he effectively encapsulates Henry Caudill's vision of Appalachia. There are times he has to read quotes from natives of the region, and his subtle voice-change sincerely conveys the emotions of the quoted individual. The only reason I gave his performance a 4 out 5 stars is because his voice may not be enjoyable to every listener, as I will admit it took me an hour or two to appreciate his narration.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

How an impoverished region was kept impoverished.

Any additional comments?

There is so many insights in this book for anyone who cares about, is from, or intends to work or live in Appalachia. The settling of Appalachia/Eastern Kentucky was more violent and godless than I was led to believe as a child from the area. The book unfortunately doesn't go into great detail about the Native Americans who were in this region before America started moving westward. The most surprising aspect of the book is in discussing the impact of the coal industry. Being born and raised in the region, a love of coal was instilled in me subconsciously; however, this book delves into the inhumane treatment of coal worker's by coal executives, who trapped their employees in a viciously hopeless cycle of generational poverty. I no longer understand the infatuation Appalachia/Eastern Kentucky has with an industry that has taken ruinous advantage of the greatest resource it has: its people.

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By Vernon Cook on 03-06-16

Excellent, revealing history, still currently relevant

Explicitly describes how the Tennessee Valley Authority is directly responsible for government sanctioned mountain top removal and destruction of the Cumberland Plateau

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1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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