This well written and carefully documented book by the author of Earth Is Enough and other studies deals with the history, physical characteristics, inhabitants and resources of the 31 counties forming the southern part of the state of Illinois, a district relatively unknown even to the ""big-time Illinois"" of Chicago and the north. This pleasant and once prosperous region, one of mild climate and fine scenery, of coal and forests and rivers, is now burned-out and blighted, its forests depleted, its towns dwindling, its people struggling with poverty. With clarity and wry humor the author analyses the causes for this decline, which are those afflicting other parts of this country as well. Residents of Illinois may not relish some of the findings of this well organized and highly readable document of decay, and the book, limited in scope as the title indicates, may unfortunately also have limited appeal. Students of social history should be interested in it.