The Most They Ever Had [NOOK Book]

Overview

The story of the mill people of Jacksonville, Alabama. The mill was here before the automobile, before the flying machine, and they served it even as it filled their lungs with lint and shortened their lives. In return, it let them live in stiff-necked dignity in the hills of their fathers. So, when death did come, no one had to ship their bodies home on a train. This is a mill story; not of bricks, steel, and cotton, but of the people who suffered it to live.
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The Most They Ever Had

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Overview

The story of the mill people of Jacksonville, Alabama. The mill was here before the automobile, before the flying machine, and they served it even as it filled their lungs with lint and shortened their lives. In return, it let them live in stiff-necked dignity in the hills of their fathers. So, when death did come, no one had to ship their bodies home on a train. This is a mill story; not of bricks, steel, and cotton, but of the people who suffered it to live.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

 “It is hard to think of a writer who reminds us more forcefully and wonderfully of what people and families are all about.” —New York Times Book Review

“Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bragg again creates a soulful, poignant portrait of working-class southern life.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Bragg has] a true gift for great storytelling, the kind . . . that makes you think it’s just a plain old story, until he gets to the end and you’re either weeping or covered with goosebumps.” —New Orleans Times-Picayune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596928190
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 111,874
  • File size: 256 KB

Meet the Author

Rick Bragg

Rick Bragg is the author of five books including the bestsellers All Over but the Shoutin’, Ava’s Man, and The Prince of Frogtown. He was born and raised on the outskirts of Jacksonville, Alabama, the mill town that is the subject of this book. A newspaper and magazine writer who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, Bragg is currently a professor of writing at The University of Alabama.

Biography

Rick Bragg caught his first break as a journalist when the competition for his first newspaper job decided to stick with his current position in a fast-food restaurant. From there, Bragg has moved from small newspapers in Alabama to the likes of The St. Petersburg Times, the Los Angeles Times and, finally, The New York Times.

He eventually won a reputation in one newsroom as "the misery writer." His assignments: Hurricane Andrew, Miami rioting, Haiti, and Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman accused of drowning her two boys in 1994 by driving her car into a lake. In 1996, while at the Times, Bragg covered the terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and won the Pulitzer Prize.

"I've really served at all stations of the cross," Bragg said in a December 2002 interview with Writer magazine. "I've been pretty much everywhere. I don't think there's a difference between writing for a newspaper or magazine and doing a chapter in a book. People who think there is something pedestrian about journalism are just ignorant. The best writers who have put pen to paper have often had a journalism background. There are these boutique writers out there who think if they are not writing their novels sitting at a bistro with their laptops, then they're not real writers. That's ridiculous."

[Bragg left The New York Times in 2003 after questions surfaced regarding his use of uncredited stringers for some of his reporting. Bragg's departure was part of a larger ethics scandal that also claimed the newspaper's top two editors.]

Bragg's memoir, All Over but the Shoutin', recounts these stations, particularly his hardscrabble youth in rural Alabama, where he was brought up by a single mother who sacrificed everything for her children.

"In his sad, beautiful, funny and moving memoir...Rick Bragg gives us a report from the forgotten heart of 'white trash' America, a sort of Pilgrim's Progress or Up from Slavery about how a clever and determined young man outwitted fate," The New York Times Book Review wrote in 1997. "The story he tells, of white suffering and disenfranchisement, is one too seldom heard. It is as if a descendant from one of the hollow-eyed children from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men had stepped out of a photograph to tell his own story, to narrate an experience that even Agee could not penetrate because he was not himself 'trash.' "

In 2001, Bragg went back a generation in his family's story and wrote about his grandfather, a hard-drinking fighter who made whiskey in backwoods stills along the Alabama-Georgia border and died at 51. His widow would rebuff her grandchildren's questions about remarrying: "No, hon, I ain't gonna get me no man...I had me one."

The Los Angeles Times called Ava's Man "a big book, at once tough and sentimental," while The New York Times said, "It is hard to think of a writer who reminds us more forcefully and wonderfully of what people and families are all about."

Bragg acknowledges that his language is stolen -- plucked from the mouths of the family members he has interviewed, filling notebooks and jotting stories on whatever was at hand -- the back of airplane tickets, for example. The biggest challenge, he would later say, was finding an order in the mess of folksy storytelling. "Talking to my people is like herding cats," he told The Kansas City Star in 2002. "You can't rely on them to walk down the road and not run into the bushes."

And, then, there would be the recollection that would come along just a little too late.

"The most agonizing thing was to finish the manuscript, know that I had pleased [the family], then have one of them say, ‘Oh, yeah, hon, I just thought of something else' -- and it would be the best story you ever heard," he told the Star.

Good To Know

Bragg brought his mother, Margaret, to New York for the Pulitzer Prize ceremony. She had never been to the city, never been on an airplane, never ridden on an escalator, and hadn't bought a dress for herself in 18 years.

In an interview with Writer, Bragg describes life as a newspaper correspondent: "If I travel for the paper, that means I fly to a city I've probably never been to, get off a plane, rent a car, drive out in bumper-to-bumper traffic heading for a little town that nobody knows the name of and can't give me directions to, and it's not on the map. When I get there, I try to get information in 15 minutes for a story I have to write in 45."

He wrote Ava's Man because his fans wanted to know more about his mother's childhood.

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    1. Hometown:
      New Orleans, Louisiana
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 26, 1959
    2. Place of Birth:
      Possum Trot, Alabama
    1. Education:
      Attended Jacksonville State University for six months in 1970; attended Harvard University, 1992-1993

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Red Clay and Black Dirt

    I don't know what someone who is not from the South will think of this book. I am from there, from the places Rick Bragg writes about. I am from those people. I come from the red clay and the black dirt. This story of the mill people resonates in my bones, in my genes. It hums and throbs like those machines. It cuts through me like the mill whistle in my home town pierced through the air.

    This is not a story about the economy. Not a microcosm for what is happening all across the country. It is a story about the people in one small mill town. It is a story about what they felt, and what they knew, and what they had to do.

    It is a moving story. It is real. Bragg is eloquent as he listens to these people telling their stories, eloquent in letting their silences speak.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 29, 2013

    Looking back 60 years ago my family was in the condition as his

    Looking back 60 years ago my family was in the condition as his. If we were ""white trash" we just didn't know how the other half lived. As we grew we all learned to aspire for more. Bragg allowed me to recall much poverty from which I had move away, while reminding me of the important things I left behind. I will be reading every thing he writes.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Favorite Author

    A story that needed to be told. While difficult to read because of the poverty and suffering of the people who worked in factories years ago, it is enlightening and heartbreaking. Heartbreaking because we know that the things that happened in this book are still happening in countries around the world. Today we cannot even imagine working for pennies a day and no benefits but that is what happened. I've often wondered... why dont they just leave, look for another job. Bragg gives incite into this question.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2010

    The Most They Ever Had By Rick Bragg

    Having grown up in a mill village in Georgia where both parents were Cotton Mill workers, I was curious to see how the author would present the people and places of my youth.
    I needn't have worried. His gritty portrayal of the harsh working conditions, the determined work ethic of the so-called "lint heads", and their fierce loyalty to the very mills that were slowly killing them was painfully accurate.
    To all the children of that era and especially to the survivors, this book is a tribute to a past that should not be forgotten. And, to those who had no connection to the cotton mills of the South, it is a portrait to the strong, hard-working men and women that helped propel our nation into the 21st Century.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    Great Read

    This is just another great Rick Bragg book. If you have read his other books and wondered about some of the characters this wil "flesh that out".
    It is not a big book page wise but is packed with inspirational first person accounts of making a living the hard way. The folks in this book have a very hard life but do not complain or make excuses.Rick writes from his heart and the hearts of others and the result is wonderful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating look at a different American reality, one I am thankful to not have experienced...

    Buy and read it, or if you have to, go to the library. America is not exactly what one sees on Must See TV.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Another Excellent Book by Rick Bragg

    Rick Bragg continues to write so realitically about his people - who are also the same people in our own lives. This new book shows how a changing economy and drive for profit in an unequal market affect our lives. Information technology has made the world flat - but it is not equally flat from a economic standpoint. Every politician, legislator, and business executive should read this book to gain a better understanding of how decisions impact lives.

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    Posted January 2, 2010

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    Posted March 19, 2010

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    Posted January 20, 2010

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    Posted December 25, 2009

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