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Miners Millhands Mountaineers: Industrialization Appalachian South (Twentieth-Century America Series) 1st Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0870493416
ISBN-10: 0870493418
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  • Miners Millhands Mountaineers: Industrialization Appalachian South (Twentieth-Century America Series)
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Product Details

  • Series: Twentieth-Century America Series
  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Tennessee Press; 1 edition (September 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870493418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870493416
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #820,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mention "Appalachia" today and the idea of a "backward" people in an impoverished region left behind by progress comes to mind. When it was published in 1982, Ronald D. Eller's Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880-1930, was the first study to argue that, contrary to this common perception, modernization had not passed the region by. Until Eller's no other scholarly study had address the industrialization of Appalachia. What Eller discovered was that Appalachia had indeed passed through a dynamic period of transformation but that as a result "the mountaineers had lost the independence and self-determination of their ancestors, without becoming full participants in the benefits of the modern work." (242) What remained after the boom years was a society trying to cling to tradition but unable to afford the trappings of modern life. Profits generated from the extraction of timber and coal had flowed into the coffers of outside investors.

It is Eller's thesis that while Appalachia had undergone industrialization, the region failed to modernize. He argues that in order to understand the reasons, Southern Appalachia's industrialization should be viewed in a national context. Profits came from the extraction of mountain resources at the lowest possible cost for national markets. This view is buttressed by Gavin Wright's (1996) economic interpretation of the South as a low wage economy within a larger economy. Eller agrees with this interpretation. Like Wright, he argues industrialization was accomplished with cheap labor.

Eller's treatise spans the years 1880 to 1930. Prior to 1880 the area's remoteness and inaccessibility had delayed development.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The past 100 years have seen Appalachia transformed from a largely autonomous region of small farms and abundant wildlife to one largely dependent on jobs related to the extraction of mineral resources. The transformation stripped Appalachia of the minerals and the wildlife while leaving the greater part of the resulting wealth in the hands of outside interests.

Ronald Eller, focusing on the years 1880-1930, documents this transformation in great detail. He describes the many extraction industries, from timber to iron ore to coal, and their goal (with some exceptions) of removing the maximum resources at the minimum of cost, with little concern for the health or livelihood of the local residents. It is a valuable reference work, well researched and with an extensive bibliography. Its main shortcoming is its restriction to a span of dates well before the present era of mountaintop removal.
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Format: Paperback
This text was one of the first books to explore the industrialization of Appalachia. It set the field for much of the current discouse that is being developed in Appalachian History. It is very well written and provides a good list of sources for additional study.
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I really like this book. It is well researched and extremely detailed. Anyone interested in a history (and kind of a genealogy) of the Appalachian region will enjoy this book. As a side note, I found it a great companion read to a slew of books about mining conflicts in Appalachia in the 20s and 30s; it really rounds out the narrative by providing great context.
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Ronald Eller shows extensive research into the history of how the cultural, economic, and industrial landscapes of southern appalachia was changed through the demands of its renewable and non-renewable natural resources. This book is highly recommended to individuals who are both anxious and curious to strengthen their knowledge about the exploitation of labor and natural resources in southern appalachia.
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A great book by a very respected author. Eller knows his stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and adding it to my library of Appalachian books.
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