Synopses & Reviews
Few places in the United States confound and fascinate Americans like Appalachia, yet no other area has been so markedly mischaracterized by the mass media. Stereotypes of hillbillies and rednecks repeatedly appear in representations of the region, but few, if any, of its many heroes, visionaries, or innovators are ever referenced.
Make no mistake, they are legion: from Anne Royall, America's first female muckraker, to Sequoyah, a Cherokee mountaineer who invented the first syllabary in modern times, and international divas Nina Simone and Bessie Smith, as well as writers Cormac McCarthy, Edward Abbey, and Nobel Laureate Pearl S. Buck, Appalachia has contributed mightily to American culture and politics. Not only did eastern Tennessee boast the country's first antislavery newspaper, Appalachians also established the first District of Washington as a bold counterpoint to British rule. With humor, intelligence, and clarity, Jeff Biggers reminds us how Appalachians have defined and shaped the United States we know today.
The word Appalachia is seldom uttered in the same sentence with the word enlightenment. More likely, images of the film Deliverance, corncob chomping grannies, or bonafide gun-toting hillbillies come to mind. However, in truth, Appalachia has been a cradle of US freedom, independence, and enlightenment, as well as a region of progressive social history, literature, and music.
The United States of Appalachia reveals to us how so many of our nation's basic freedoms and founding moments grew out of the Appalachias. From the first declaration of independence to the beginnings of folk music, literature, and poetry, Jeff Biggers illuminates with humor, intelligence, and clarity, the many reasons why we all need a lesson in Appalachian history.