OUR APPALACHIA: An Oral History by Laurel & Bill Weinberg--Eds. Shackelford


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A compilation of the Appalachian Oral History Project, this is the summa of a five-year collaboration between the community and the staff members and students of four regional colleges. It is a book which self-consciously seeks to inspire pride in those who continue to live in the region long proclaimed one of the most benighted in America. The stoicism, courage, and flinty humor of the mountaineers is recorded for their grandchildren in the tales of wild man ""Devil John""; homemade whiskey, quilting, and cornshucking; the early horrors of the coal mines and the battles of the UMW. But the book suffers from a kind of forced optimism--""the spirit of independence is alive and well in Central Appalachia""--which is not borne out by the words of men like Lewis Burke who says simply, ""Mining is really a hazardous job with no future."" Economic self-sufficiency has always been an elusive goal, and people seem uncomfortably aware that control of the resources and wealth of eastern Kentucky is in the hands of outsiders. There are some who speak in favor of responsible strip mining and turning Appalachia into a ""recreational playground""; others bitterly oppose such notions and talk of a fundamentalist land ethic, diagnosing the malaise as ""spiritual"" rather than social or economic; still others have concluded that ""It's proven out to be dog eat dog."" The whole is bound together only by dogged hope, not the kind of trenchant analysis and unifying vision that can make oral history a uniquely powerful document.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1976
ISBN: 0813101840
Publisher: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Gffoux