Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945

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Appalachia has played a complex and often contradictory role in the unfolding of American history. Created by urban journalists in the years following the Civil War, the idea of Appalachia provided a counterpoint to emerging definitions of progress. Early-twentieth-century critics of modernity saw the region as a remnant of frontier life, a reflection of simpler times that should be preserved and protected. However, supporters of development and of the growth of material production, consumption, and technology decried what they perceived as the isolation and backwardness of the place and sought to "uplift" the mountain people through education and industrialization. Ronald D Eller has worked with local leaders, state policymakers, and national planners to translate the lessons of private industrial-development history into public policy affecting the region. In Uneven Ground: Appalachia since 1945, Eller examines the politics of development in Appalachia since World War II with an eye toward exploring the idea of progress as it has evolved in modern America. Appalachia's struggle to overcome poverty, to live in harmony with the land, and to respect the diversity of cultures and the value of community is also an American story. In the end, Eller concludes, "Appalachia was not different from the rest of America; it was in fact a mirror of what the nation was becoming."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Simply stands alone as the best analysis and account of the attempt since 1945 to 'modernize' Appalachia through social engineering and economic development." —Teaching History" —

"Indispensible to any study of Appalachia, whether academic or otherwise." —Teaching History" —

"Provocative and enlightening." —Teaching History" —

"Eller does a superb job of showing the struggles to change Appalachia. His work is also an excellent study of why the Great Society practically succeeded and also failed" —Choice" —

"Eller offers a tight and at times passionate narrative of major historical events since 1945 and their connection to the national scene." —Jake Struhelka, West Virginia History" —

"Eller has again produced a sharply focused, insightful, and at times relentless overview of a region that continues to mystify and perplex historians, social scientists, economists, and public policy makers." —Journal of American History" —

"A comprehensive, powerful analysis of post-1945 Appalachia." — Journal of Southern History" —

"Eller pieces together a very disjointed history to make a significant contribution to our understanding of Appalachia....His parallel notions of regional uniqueness and national conformity will challenge students, scholars, and interested Appalachians to ask new questions about the region's recent past and uncertain future." — Ohio Valley History" —

"[Eller] has researched and written about this rural industrial region with passion, personal insight and a hope that is often lacking in work on Appalachia. Equally important, he insists that Appalachia is not a region apart, but rather that its dilemma is, in fact, increasingly America's dilemma." — Journal of Rural History" —

"Now as one of his field's elder statesmen, Eller systematically analyzes a more recent period in Appalachian history; a complx era of regional ferment that gave birth to his own ground-breaking book and the scholarship that evolved from it...His practical and prescient messages are essential reading for both regional and national audiences...Eller's prose persuasively refutes-once again-the persistent, intellectually lazy notions of Appalachian isolation, uniformity, and peculiarity. Eller is at his very best when he explores how "unintended consequences" of those broader developments converged with internal challenges and crises (most notably massive out-migration and unregulated strip-mining) to foster outbursts of grass-roots activism and a cultural renaissance that were simultaneously unique and universal...Uneven Ground warns Americans about an array of challenges to our national soul and general well-being including: environmental threats, inequities of status and income, and matters of economic security and sustainability." — Journal of East Tennessee History" —

"Few regions of America are more emblematic of the problems and challenges of poverty as Appalachia. And the author concedes that over the years - even recent years - "inequalities in the region have grown." — History Wire" — History Wire

" In Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945, Eller examines the politics of development in Appalachia since World War II with an eye toward exploring the idea of progress as it has evolved in modern America. Appalachia's struggle to overcome poverty, to live in harmony with the land, and to respect the diversity of cultures and the value of community is also an American story. — Pentsville Herald" — Pentsville Herald

"A former head of the Appalachia Center at the University of Kentucky, Ron Eller is one of the most distinguished acholars of his generation. This book, along with its predecessor, Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: The Modernization of the Mountain South 1880-1930 constitute the definitive history of the industrialization of Southern Appalachia. — Appalachian Heritage" — Appalachian Heritage

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813125237
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 10/24/2008
  • Series: None Ser.
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 746,608
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Ronald D Eller is former director of the Appalachian Center and professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization of the Appalachian South, 1880--1930.

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Table of Contents

"How America Came to the Mountains" Jim Wayne Miller Miller, Jim Wayne

Introduction 1

1 Rich Land - Poor People 9

2 The Politics of Poverty 53

3 Developing the Poor 90

4 Confronting Development 129

5 Growth and Development 177

6 The New Appalachia 221

Notes 261

Bibliography 284

Index 298

Illustrations follow page 176

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