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Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area Paperback – October 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr.Caudill shows how a wholly separate culture developed from the combination of escapee indentured servant, local Native Americans, and Eastern Europeans. He expertly portrays the religious fundamentalism, outsider domination, and cynical exploitation that have held these people back from self-achievement over the generations. Mr. Caudill tells you how the land, the rivers, and human lives have been repeatedly despoiled by King Coal. He feelingly describes the squalor, poverty, ill health, and tragedies suffered by the region's people. It is not a tale for the overly sensitive, certainly.
Mr. Caudill reflects the ethos of his generation by advocating large-scale government programs to allay the region's problems, a "solution' this writer views with some skepticism. Nothwithstanding this, Mr. Caudill is a genius at showing how particular regions evolve very differently from their neighbors and what happens to those who are left behind.
I recommend the book to anyone interested in regional sociology, the South, and the Appalachian country. It is well worth the read.
There have been two criticisms of this book that I think one must respond too. Some in the academic community seem to dismiss the book because of the lack of documentation (foot notes etc.). They seem to feel that book was not well researched and that most of the book is simply the opinions of the author. I believe this is an unfair criticism. Caudill spent his entire life in this region. The book consists of his own life experiences, observations and conversations with those in this region. I don't think he needed to research the ideas in this book because he lived them. First hand experience is often times the best source for anything. Later generations intent on writing on this topic, folks who were not there and who did not live through this time in this region of the country, should probably be expected to do more research on their own before writing on these topics.
Others believe Caudill perpetuated the stereotypes of Appalachians. In defense of these critics, to some extent he does perpetuate the stereotypes of mountain folk by his harsh comments towards them, especially later in the book, and his primary focus on the negative attributes of people in this region, particularly in regards to their dependence on public assistance.Read more ›
Other than the concluding plea for help, the book is depressing, and offers little hope. It traces the history from fiercely independent settlers, through company coal towns, to a severely depressed welfare state with poor schools, which threaten to perpetuate the problems indefinitely. Despite the depressing aspects, the history is well written and interesting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the best books I've read since I live in the region that the book is about.Published 20 days ago by Dennis
One of the most profound and enlightening book I have ever read. John F Kennedy agreed and required his staff to read it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gary S. King
Shame , shame, shame on big industry!!! What a waste of our resources.There should be a South Mountain Authority. I will make an effort to read "Fifty Years".Published 3 months ago by M. Kuhn
What an emotional and devastating situation! Truly the Cumberland Mountain region is a 3rd world country within our country of wealth and prosperity. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rosanne Madden
I knew the Cumberlands had been through hell, but I never knew the true story of why it had happened. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Charles R. McQuary