All too frequently, the greatest and most urgent of causes have languished for lack of a single, comprehensive book. The plight of eastern Kentucky is a perfect case in point; for years it has been studied and discussed, and a welter of articles and books on various aspects has appeared, but no one until now has ever put it all together in one volume. Mr. Caudill's subtitle is The Biography of a Depressed Area, and it is fully justified by his intimate, thorough approach. He begins with the first settlement of the region and traces his story up through the Civil War, the feuds, the lumbering, the coming of the coal barons, the Depression and the emergence of the UMWA, the ""Big Boom"" of the 1940's, and the steady decline of the people into poverty and despair which has been going on ever since. Mr. Caudill's forebears have lived in the area since the 18th century and he himself has practised law there since 1948, so that every step of the way he is able to buttress his account with valuable first-hand information. The picture he has assembled is clear without undue simplification, and forceful without spurious appeal to emotion. His closing chapter, ""The Case for a Southern Mountain Authority,"" is a masterpiece of cogent argument for specific solutions to specific problems. In the social, economic, and legislative battles which must be fought, and fought soon if the people of our Southern Appalachians are ever to be relieved of their very real and pressing difficulties, no finer single weapon can be imagined than this one book.