Certainly there's none of the strong story momentum of Caudill's pioneer Pauline imperiled in his earlier novel, Hills to Dark Westward. In fact you'll have to scratch around for any narrative at all in this further quasi-documentary of his native Appalachia which pans in and out on Slaughter County from a time well before the Civil War when one Isham Bonham became the progenitor of the clan which through the years retained its property, influence and upstanding ambitions for a poor people who will be further deprived by the coal companies. It will be Thomas Jefferson Bonham, Tom for short, who will inherit his forefather's stamina, who will become a doctor but run for office (hopelessly in the face of the ""minds and public concern that did not exist""), who will attempt to handle the ""colored"" problem as well as the continuing impoverishment and illiteracy of the entire community through all the years of the Depression and Roosevelt and the WPA, and finally will achieve some latterday recognition as a thirteen months' Senator from Slaughter County. Caudill is still a clean and firm and direct writer and perhaps you can work up more sympathy if you superimpose the face of Sam Ervin delivering a back home homily -- ""I'm like an old hog rifle: I shoot hard but load slow."" Unfortunately the novel loads real slow and is instructive where it should have been involving.