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This is not a very sophisticated or subtle book. Rather, it's as powerful and direct as a bulldozer. Kathy Kahn just turned on the tape recorder and let them talk -- these brave, enduring hillbilly women, the daughters and wives and widows of the dirt poor, sometimes unemployed, sometimes maimed and disabled miners from Harlan County, Kentucky, and Tennessee and West Virginia. Talk about their undernourished children: ""their little legs would be so tiny and their stomachs would be so big from eating green apples""; talk about their men in the mines: ""forty cars of coal rolled over his chest and caved it in""; and about the corrupt UMW and the ""compensation"" which was never paid for the lost limbs and the black lungs; and about their own fierce resistance to the company thugs: ""I sat up all night with a loaded .22 waiting for them to come."" And resistance is the overriding theme here -- that tough, tenacious instinct to survive with their pride and anger intact. Some of them stayed in the mining towns, some migrated North to the slums of Cincinnati, Chicago and Detroit there to live in rat-infested tenements fighting it out with hostile welfare officials. Miss Kahn is also angry on their behalf and, even though it is no longer fashionable as it was a few years ago, to decry the ravished landscape and people of Appalachia, this book makes it plain that the now defunct War On Poverty hardly touched their lives.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1973
Publisher: Doubleday