Appalachian Classics — Books page

Appalachia: A History. By John Alexander Williams. 2002, University of North Carolina Press. While certainly a scholarly book, Williams’ readable style makes this an ideal source for the casual reader. His narrative begins with the earliest European explorers and concludes with the current state of Appalachia, including the crisis of mountaintop removal. He examines and explains the various historical, cultural, social, and economic forces and trends that have shaped the region, and that have given Appalachia a complex character far removed from the simplistic view held by many. Noted Appalachian scholar David Whisnant called Appalachia: A History “the definitive one-volume history of Appalachia,” and that’s high praise, indeed. (December 06)

Oral History. By Lee Smith. 1983. Ballantine Books. Smith’s rich, rewarding novel about an Appalachian family unfolds as a young woman collects oral histories from her family for a college project. Generations of voices present this saga, spinning a fascinating tale filled with Appalachian history and folk customs. Beautifully crafted, Oral History is one of Lee Smith’s finest novels, and was called “nothing less than masterly” by the New York Times.

Bloodroot: Reflections on Place by Appalachian Women Writers. Edited by Joyce Dyer. University Press of Kentucky.
Bloodroot is a beautiful collection of memoirs by some of Appalachia’s finest writers, all dealing with what it means to them to live in Appalachia. Writers and poets such as Mary Lee Settle, Gail Godwin, Marilou Awiakta, Wilma Dykeman, and more than thirty others have penned a diverse set of essays that deal with what Lee Smith calls “the terrain of the heart.” It’s a brilliant collection, filled with insight and excellent writing.

Women, Power, and Dissent in the Hills of Carolina. By Mary K. Anglin. University of Illinois Press.
For over a century, the mica industry was important in western North Carolina. Anglin’s fine anthropological study examines role women played in the mica factories through close examination of a handful of individuals. The result is a highly-readable text that sheds light on the place of gender, community, and labor in an Appalachian industry.


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