John Alexander Williams received his doctorate in history from Yale University in 1966, having studied with the eminent American historian, C. Vann Woodward. He taught at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Illinois at Chicago before joining the Department of History at West Virginia University in 1972. He is now Professor of History at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, having also directed the Center for Appalachian Studies for seven years. He is the author of West Virginia and the Captains of Industry, a West Virginia University Press classic.
West Virginia: A History (States and the Nation)by John Alexander Williams
John Alexander Williams's West Virginia: A History is widely considered one of the finest books ever written about the state.In his clear, eminently readable style, Williams organizes the tangled strands of West Virginia's past around a few dramatic events—the battle of Point Pleasant, John Brown's insurrection in Harper's Ferry, the Paint Creek/p>/em>
John Alexander Williams's West Virginia: A History is widely considered one of the finest books ever written about the state.In his clear, eminently readable style, Williams organizes the tangled strands of West Virginia's past around a few dramatic events—the battle of Point Pleasant, John Brown's insurrection in Harper's Ferry, the Paint Creek labor movement, the Hawk's Nest and Buffalo Creek disasters, and more. Williams uses these pivotal events as introductions to the larger issues of statehood, Civil War, unionism, and industrialization. Along the way, Williams conveys a true feel for the lives of common West Virginians, the personalities of the state's memorable characters, and the powerful influence of the land itself on its own history.
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¿West Virginia¿ is a fast reading introduction to the history of the Mountain State. Beginning with a brief section on the region from Revolutionary times, the book quickly moves on to the Civil War era which gave birth to West Virginia statehood. The Unionist sentiment in the Western part of Virginia resulted, in 1863, in the only case of succession of a portion of one state from another in American history. The Civil War in West Virginia is portrayed both in its military and political aspects. Williams tells the story of the evolution of West Virginia from the political, economic and social perspectives. The fabled Hatfield-MCcoy feud is given ample attention, as is the Hatfield who served his state as governor and United States Senator. In a state with an undistinguished political history, Williams introduces the reader to a series of governors, senators and political bosses who struggled with absentee landowners, rail and coal concerns and labor leaders to lead West Virginia through the 19th and 20th centuries. The story of West Virginia is a story of hope and despair, promise and danger, fulfillment and disappointment. Through it all Williams presents its story as a drama, partly heroic and partly tragic. Not a partisan Mountaineer booster, Williams tells the good with the bad. For anyone wishing to know the history of our country, state by state, this book fills in one piece of the American mosaic in a most pleasant fashion.