The United States of Appalachia, by Jeff Biggers
concerned with the area called Appalachia should read The United
States of Appalachia by Jeff Biggers.
Anyone who might lack pride in this area will be pleasantly
surprised as this book reveals the area’s startling history of
importance that Appalachia has in the history of the United States. Not the
least important is Biggers quotation from Washington Irving, creator
of one of the area’s most famous characters, Rip Van Winkle, when
Irving suggested that the area should be referred to as the United
States of Alleghenia or possibly Appalachia.
Author Jeff Biggers weaves a comprehensive tapestry of the area,
beginning with “hillbilly” sons and singers, and going on into the
proud American history of the place. He adds a touch of Cherokee,
and even traces a prominent area family, until opening the curtain
on early American battles against the British. Even the legendary
Daniel Boone gets involved.
To some extent, Biggers loses his sense of distance and brings the
reader into a detailed view of his sources, featuring early
newspapers as well as famous journalists. But after this diversion,
we are thrust into the cold realities of slavery, emancipation,
civil war, and we witness the rise of unions as defenders of common
humanity in relationship with the great coal mines, iron mills and
cotton mills of the area. On balance, a reader comes away with a
strong sense of Appalachia’s past.
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