Brown, R. S. & Brown, L. E. (2013). Kentucky Hauntings: Homespun Ghost Stories and Unexplained History. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. 174p. ISBN 9780813143200
In the early pages of this book, husband-and-wife writing team Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown describe their memories of a history teacher “who told us stories that made history come alive” (5). For many readers of Kentucky Hauntings: Homespun Ghost Stories and Unexplained History, this collection of mysterious happenings in Kentucky will provide a similar experience, especially for those who understand that history is best learned when made personal through memorably scary stories like the ones included in this book.
As the subtitle of Homespun Ghost Stories and Unexplained History hints, two major themes running throughout the book are the subtle influences of storytelling and history in modern life. As the authors write in the introduction, “stories give us glimpses into history that we could never see in timeline and strictly factual accounts” (5). As professional storytellers who have written several other collections of ghost stories, Simpson Brown and Brown are uniquely positioned to encourage storytelling in modern life. Storytelling, the authors argue, can be a way for multiple generations to connect, as well as to preserve and share local folklore and heritage.
The authors note that they have gathered stories that were originally told aloud. As with most folklore based on personal experience, these stories emphasize emotional truth and experience rather than dates and facts. After an introduction that provides context for the stories, the collection is organized into three major sections: stories from history that highlight a particularly interesting facet of Kentucky heritage or culture, stories corroborated through local news headlines, and stories gathered from friends and family (“homefolks”). The sections from history, featuring traditions such as announcing a beekeeper’s death to his bees and covering the hive to allow the bees to mourn, preserve a particularly valuable personal view of local history.
Most stories are just 4 to 5 pages each, making them perfect for retelling. For readers interested in experiencing their own ghost stories, the book provides a brief list of places listed in the book that welcome public visitors. Based on the brutal nature of some of the stories’ real-live tragedies, this book is probably best for readers in middle school and up. Recommended for public and academic libraries with strong local history or storytelling collections.
Librarian – Information Literacy and Learning Services
Cleveland State Community College
Clark, A. D. & Hayward, N. M. (Eds.). (2013). Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity, and Community. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. 256 pages. ISBN: 9780813140964
As a sixth-generation Scots-Irish Appalachian woman, I have a deep love for the people, traditions, and dialects of the Appalachian region, particularly the regions of southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. Reading Talking Appalachian gave me great pleasure as it enlightened me in the history and varieties of the dialect; it deepened my awareness of the tension within some Appalachian people between wanting to be true to one’s heritage and language yet not wanting to be negatively stigmatized; and it informed me of new teaching methods being applied in Appalachian classrooms to promote an appreciation for and a preservation of the dialect.
The book is divided into two major sections. Part I, “Varieties, Education, and Power in Appalachia,” consists of nine essays contributed by subject experts, including the book’s editors, Clark and Hayward. The essays discuss the origins and varieties of the Appalachian dialect, the misunderstandings and educational issues which result from the differences between Appalachian English and standard American English, and the portrayal of the Appalachian dialect in literature in the last 150 years.
Part II, “Voices from Appalachia,” includes four personal essays, three novel excerpts, a short story, and poetry contributed by favorite Appalachian writers including Lee Smith, Crystal Wilkinson, George Ella Lyon, and Ron Rash. The essays discuss topics such as returning to one’s Appalachian “voice” and dealing with prejudice in academia and in the workplace. The novel excerpts, rich with Appalachian themes and language, include introductions by the authors.
The book also includes brief biographies of the contributors and an index.
Editor Amy D. Clark, associate professor of English and communication studies at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, is the founder and director of the Appalachian Writing Project. She grew up experiencing the tension between speaking in her native Jonesville, Virginia, dialect yet also recognizing and using standard American English. As a young adult she began to take pride in her Appalachian dialect and heritage through her collegiate course in Appalachian literature, and today she dedicates herself to promoting an appreciation of “dialectal diversity” (viii).
Editor Nancy M. Hayward, professor emeritus of English at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, taught applied linguistics, sociolinguistics, and composition. Her roots in western Virginia, the many years she lived in southwestern Pennsylvania, and her studies in sociolinguistics have resulted in her interest in the socioeconomic issues unique to the people of Appalachia.
This book would be a valuable contribution to academic libraries which support programs in Appalachian studies, linguistics, and English education.
Sarah Senter, MLIS
Lincoln Memorial University
Dulemba, E. O. (2013). A Bird on Water Street. San Francisco: Little Pickle Press. 270 pages. ISBN: 9781939775054
Appropriate for children in grades 4 -8, A Bird on Water Street is a coming-of-age story about growing up in an East Tennessee mining community during the 1980s. Although Jack lives in an area that has been ravaged by poor mining practices, he is a typical boy who likes baseball and hanging out with his best friend. His dad has a good job in the copper mine and life is good for the most part. But then things change. Jack’s uncle is killed in a mining accident, the mining company implements a massive layoff, and the remaining overworked men (including Jack’s dad) go on strike. The strike has expected consequences: stores close, people move away, Jack’s family has to survive on a shoestring budget, and the company eventually closes the mine. In the midst of the suffering, however, the environment begins to heal. Jack’s garden begins to grow, tadpoles develop in tailings ponds, and a bird is seen on Water Street. I’m not going to give away the ending, but I will say that it is satisfying.
Dulemba’s book is not a celebration of mining, but it does celebrate the spirit of the men who work in mines. Jack comes from a long line of miners, and his father wants Jack to be a miner too. Jack, however, wants to work above ground—at 13 he has been to too many funerals for people who have either died in mining accidents or as the result of mining related illnesses. On the other hand, his friend Piran, whose father is the town’s postmaster, would like to grow up to be a miner because the miners are the royalty of Coppertown in his eyes, and he finds the underground environment appealing.
The author even pays homage to the Harmon and Hicks families of Beech Mountain, North Carolina in a scene where Jack’s mother entertains her husband and son with Jack Tales while they are stranded during an ice storm. In fact, Jack’s father is named Ray Hicks (the real Ray Hicks was a National Heritage Fellow and noted teller of Jack Tales).
The author breathes life into her characters. Readers can relate to Jack’s agony when he sees the girl he likes with an unsuitable boyfriend or his sense of wonder with the sounds and colors of the natural world outside of his barren community. Dulemba’s description of parents who are trying to act normal when the world they know is falling apart is right on target. Even the lunar-like landscape of Coppertown feels like a well-developed character—changing from a barren wasteland into an environment that can begin to support plants, trees, and animals.
Although the story is fiction, Coppertown is modeled after Copperhill, Tennessee. In an “Author’s Note,” Dulemba gives a brief history of the Copper Basin region as well as information on Appalachian culture. She also includes several photographs of the Copper Basin that readers should find fascinating.
Elizabeth Dulemba is an award-winning author/illustrator of children’s books. She is a Visiting Associate Professor at Hollins University in the MFA program in Children’s Book Writing and Illustration. A Bird on Water Street, her first novel, is well written and engaging, and is heartily recommended for public and school libraries, as well as academic libraries with juvenile collections.
East Tennessee State University
Eller, R. D. (2013). Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press. 376 pages. ISBN: 9780813125237
The mountain region of Appalachia, stretching from Pennsylvania to Alabama, has long been home to a unique culture, most of it rural and heavily dependent on coal mining and small-scale subsistence farming. To the rest of the country, its people have often been maligned as “backward” and unwilling to embrace modernity. Since the end of World War II in 1945, the United States has sought to modernize and therefore improve the lives of Appalachians by promoting “progress.” The problem, as Ronald Eller discusses in Uneven Ground, is that the national idea of progress does not always fit the particular problems and concerns of Appalachia and its citizens.
Eller makes a strong case for his thesis. He demonstrates that modernizing efforts tended to blame the people, culture, and environment of Appalachia for their perceived inability to adapt to contemporary American society. This tendency was especially evident in popular stereotypes of the overly religious, violent, and ignorant “hillbilly” that developed in the first few postwar decades, when many Appalachians sought employment in large northern industrial cities such as Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Detroit. But the real problem, according to Eller, was that much of the wealth generated in Appalachia, much of it from coal mining, was controlled by outside corporations, meaning that few of the profits were reinvested in the region. Coal mining was also responsible for environmental disasters such as water pollution and landscape mutilation (due to strip-mining), while Appalachians who resisted corporations’ efforts to acquire their land for mining were deemed “troublemakers.” Despite efforts by the federal government, including numerous visits by presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, to invest in education and job creation in Appalachia, the region still lags behind most of the country in employment, education, and per capita income.
Uneven Ground is an excellent and thorough study of Appalachia’s people, culture, and struggles over the past seventy years. Both public and academic libraries throughout the region should include it in their collections, as it is an extremely valuable contribution to our understanding of the region’s history. Eller has made a powerful, well-documented case for his argument that Appalachia has been unfairly blamed for its own problems, while the real culprits, such as outside corporations with little concern for the land or its people, grew wealthy by exploiting it. This work is all the more important because it helps one understand an issue that is very much ongoing. Even as most parts of Appalachia now feature modern national restaurants and chain stores, and many of its people accordingly work in low-paying retail and service jobs, the region still suffers from negative perceptions as well as an alarming exodus of talented young people who must look elsewhere for opportunity. While there is no easy solution to these problems, Uneven Ground helps us better understand them, and that, at least, is a good start.
Aaron D. Horton
Assistant Professor of History
Alabama State University
Foresta, R. (2013). Land Between the Lakes: A Geography of the Forgotten Future. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. 336 pages. ISBN 9781572338630
The Land Between the Lakes (LBL) is an inland peninsula straddling Tennessee and Kentucky. Originally known as “Land Between the Rivers,” the peninsula was formed when the Tennessee River was dammed in the 1940s, creating Kentucky Lake, and the Cumberland River was dammed in the 1960s, forming Barkley Lake. The LBL was supposed to be a place where future generations of Americans could come in their vast amounts of free time, reconnect with nature, find happiness and build their character. The establishment of the recreation area was also supposed to help transform a region of poverty into an economic success. Unfortunately, the land between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes became “a place without a point,” and eventually came under the management of the National Forest Service. In Land Between the Lakes: A Geography of the Forgotten Future, Ronald Foresta tells the long, fascinating history of this piece of the South.
Settled in the 1770s, the region was seen as rural and backwards by the early twentieth century. The Tennessee River was unpredictable, while the farmland was poor and overworked. After the Great Depression, the area was targeted for modernization and managed use by the federal government. This book details the politics and personalities that were at work. Participants in the LBL story include politicians (FDR, John F. Kennedy), geographers (Arthur Morgan, John Wesley Powell) and other progressive thinkers who believed in a new vision of the America to come. The author objectively lays out the myths and realities of what happened, and how the future didn’t work out the way it was planned. The Tennessee Valley Authority has always been given a particularly bad rap in popular memory for having cleared the land and uprooted inhabitants, which in the end, turned out to be for much less progress than promised. Foresta points out that the main villains in the LBL saga were time and changes to the future that no one could predict.
Dr. Foresta is a professor of Geography at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. His other books include Open Space Policy, America’s National Parks and Their Keepers, and Amazon Conservation in the Age of Development.
Land Between the Lakes is 336 pages, with maps, tables and black and white photographs. There are extensive notes, a bibliography and an index. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries, or libraries with a particular interest in the area.
Middle Tennessee State University
Frankenberg, E. and DeBray, E. (Eds.). (2011). Integrating Schools in a Changing Society: New Politics and Legal Options for a Multiracial Generation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 341 pages. ISBN: 9780897835128
This book was compiled to assess “what do we do now” following the 2007 Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 decision, in which the Roberts’ Supreme Court invalidated the use of students’ race as a variable in district school desegregation. Understanding how education law reached this point after Brown v. Board is important to understanding the book’s value and relevance.
Conservatives fighting to maintain exclusion as an individual right won a major victory toward dismantling public civil rights protections in 1976 with Washington v. Davis (96 S.Ct. 2040), which required plaintiffs to prove an exclusionary measure was intentionally designed to segregate or preclude applicants based on race. In 2001 the Supreme Court applied that standard to the general terms of the Civil Rights Act in Alexander v. Sandoval (121 S.Ct. 1511). PICS v. Seattle (127 S.Ct. 2738) applied a post-racial Alexander standard to schools specifically. In PICS, the court specifically affirmed the abstract idea of an integrated society, while invalidating the legal mechanism to move toward that ideal. In practice, the PICS decision allows local school districts to take actions that are effectively segregative—so long as it cannot be shown that districts intend to segregate students racially. In PICs, Brown has been deliberately and substantively weakened. This book explains why and warns of the potential long-term costs involved. This collection “broadly aims to set an agenda for public schools for a multiracial generation of children who are entering and projected to enter our public schools in the coming decades (2).”
In this score of essays, 29 contributors address the challenges of fostering inclusiveness in post-racial education. The book’s five parts group essays in terms of both history and practical theory, dealing broadly with issues involving equity, socioeconomics and class, school-assignment, and broader social policy. Like most books relating to education, this one is anchored strongly in its present. Barak Obama’s election and policy is mentioned everywhere.
If race cannot be factored into desegregation, what other models are there? One answer, clearly acceptable to the Supreme Court, is to rely on the market-driven individualism within socioeconomics—class—to assign students to schools. Where once exclusionary views of “our schools” relied on maintaining color-based boundaries, exclusion can now be effectively based on economics or opportunity, a change which accomplishes essentially the same purposes while avoiding the legal pitfalls of separation by “race.” The authors and editors explore that option in several essays and lay out a case why it is ineffective.
The book is clearly written for professionals and is appropriate for any academic collection supporting upper-division teacher education. Libraries serving large or urban school districts might find the book suitable for their collections.
Univ. of Tennessee at Martin
Hutton, T.R.C. (2013). Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South. Lexington KY: The University Press of Kentucky. 430 pages. ISBN 9780813136462.
It is easy to approach Bloody Breathitt simply as an historical work on Breathitt County, Kentucky and the Appalachian South. If you read it for that reason, you will still be rewarded. But the heart of this book is a study of political violence, and more importantly, “the politics of interpreting violence” (p.9). T.R.C. Hutton demonstrates that in order to understand the history of a place, you have to understand the politics and the way political actions are interpreted and explained.
There was no feud. No Hatfields and McCoys. There was violence, certainly, but it was political violence. Hutton unmasks “Bloody Breathitt” as an “other”—a fictive narrative of the political violence in Breathitt County, Kentucky created through uncritical treatments by prior histories. Even as violence unfolded, it was described and dismissed by contemporary news outlets as a feud. Present and real violence was always described from the perspective of a fictive past (p.7).
Feud was—and still is—used to explain away political violence as morally equivalent violence (p.6). A blood feud can be dismissed out-of-hand. Hutton makes pointed references to George Orwell's works on the use of language to obscure the realities of violence, politics, and political violence. Hutton applies this realization to the politically-motivated violence in Breathitt County, Kentucky, from the Civil War to the Progressive Era that has often and uncritically been dismissed as feuding.
The loaded term “feud” was a pre-packaged narrative used to describe violence after the fact. “Feud” immediately segregated violence from purpose, reality from fiction (p.8). In examining how “feud” and other such terms separated meaning from action, Hutton destroys the illusion of Bloody Breathitt's temporal other: just as “feud” was used to obscure and confuse then, we use “extraordinary rendition,” “enhanced interrogation,” and military “contractors” to obscure and confuse now (p.9).
Readers quickly realize that Bloody Breathitt’s central purpose is to dispel the “clouds of rhetoric” that are used to explain/obscure discourse about political violence. This is not a new discovery. Any casual student of history or politics knows that there are often deliberate political motivations behind what terms are used to describe violence at all levels. Hutton shatters Bloody Breathitt's temporal-otherness, pulling it out of the past into a familiar present.
Bloody Breathitt began as Hutton’s dissertation and the scholarly apparatus reflects that, including notes, bibliography, and index. The endnotes are divided by chapter and page, and begins with a list of abbreviations used in the book. The bibliography is well-organized by primary and secondary sources. Primary sources are divided between archival and published sources, which is further divided into multiple categories. Secondary sources are likewise divided among categories of sources.
Bloody Breathitt is suitable for an academic library and research collection specializing in the history of Kentucky, the Appalachian South, Upper South, and general Southern history from the pre-Civil War period to the Progressive Era. On a personal note, as a native Kentuckian, this book is highly recommended for any reader interested in scholarly works dealing with the history of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Anthony Prince, MLS
Brown-Daniel Library, Tennessee State University
Mathis, T. (2013). The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, and the South. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 248 pages. ISBN: 9781469610627
The author of this cookbook is clearly a fan not only of football, but of football culture. The inspiration for the included dishes came from traveling the South for 2 ½ football seasons. His encounters with fans, food, and football have given rise to this attractive and culturally relevant collection of recipes. In addition to the recipes, the author includes preparation tips and sections on the culture and fans of the schools he visited. This includes multiple Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams and several smaller schools such as Alabama State University, Murray State University and the University of Memphis.
Given the large portions created by the recipes in this book, they can also be used for potluck functions. A lot of the recipes are intended to be started ahead of time and prepared on site, so readers should always read the entire recipe if they plan on making it entirely at home.
Generally, I was impressed with this cookbook. The range of ingredients and food types is impressive. I think the book will appeal to a wide audience of readers with a broad level of culinary talent. Some of the recipes are simple, while others require a bit of preparation and precision. My first attempt at a recipe from this book was the hushpuppies (page 114); they turned out wonderfully and the recipe is quite simple with only a few ingredients. I would suggest following the author’s suggested ingredients, however, as I used cornmeal and not self-rising cornmeal and the results were more solid than other hushpuppies I have encountered. I also made Carrot Hummus (page 61), which was a huge hit! It didn’t last long in my house! My one tip from this recipe is to acquire a large food processor before attempting it. I had a small food processor and I had to blend the hummus in batches. The end product tasted just fine, but it was more work to create. The author includes multiple alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage recipes. I attempted the Archie’s Fred (page 24), which is a mixture of pineapple juice, rum and some other tasty additions. Again, this was a hit! The directions for this and the other recipes I tested were clear and straightforward. Perhaps the easiest and tastiest recipe I tried from this book was Sharp Cheddar Beer Bread (page 117), which was so easy and so good that it has already been added to my repertoire. I have every intention of trying several others recipes and I feel like this cookbook will gain a place on my shelf of often-used sources for inspiration.
This title would do well at any sized public library, especially those systems in hotbeds of football fandom. It could also be considered by academic libraries that are part of the schools featured in the book. The author, Taylor Mathis, is a professional food blogger (taylortakesataste.com) and photographer. He is an avid football fan and that passion is clearly demonstrated in this impressive cookbook.
Montgomery City-County Public Library
Wood, A. L. (Ed.). (2011). The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Volume 19: Violence. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 368 pages. ISBN: 9780807872161
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 19: Violence is a collection of entries of essays by scholars who specialize in the history and culture of the American South. The University of North Carolina Press and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi collaborated in creating a multi-volume work on understanding the Southern United States.
The Encyclopedia contains a General Introduction to the conception of The Encyclopedia and details the unexpectedly favorable responses to the series by critics. Also included in the General Introduction is a synopsis of the rise of academic research and studies in Southern American Culture in the past few decades. The Introduction to the volume briefly states what is contained in the volume.
The volume is a compilation of 101 entries that are actually essays discussing topics such as American Indians, Blacks, Whites, the poor, family feuds, antiabortion violence, the bowie knife, race riots, biographical information on specific figures in the American South, and even movies, such as The Birth of a Nation and Deliverance. Each essay is written by scholars who specialize in Southern American Studies. While a number of articles contain illustrations, the volume as a whole would have benefitted from the inclusion of more photographs. This reviewer noted a mistake in the section on “Films about Prison” where Burt Lancaster is mistakenly identified as the actor who played Paul Cullen in the 1974 version of The Longest Yard (Burt Reynolds played the role of the Paul “Wrecking” Crewe).
The entries are organized alphabetically into one of two different groupings with longer essays in one section and shorter essays in the other section. There is no explanation in the Introduction as to why this configuration was chosen and there doesn’t seem to be an inherent reason either. Although there is an index to the volume, the organization of the book could prove to be very confusing to those who do not read academic literature.
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 19: Violence is perfect for libraries and archives who collect information about the South and would like short succinct information about various topics dealing with violence in the South and its context within all of the United States. It is a great source for Southern pop-culture as well.
Joanna M. Anderson
East Tennessee State University
Wood, G. C. (2013). Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 386 pages. ISBN: 9780803244993
While early twentieth century baseball stars such as Babe Ruth and Walter Johnson are legendary figures known to many of today’s baseball fans, other prominent players from the era are far from household names. Howard Ellsworth “Smoky Joe” Wood
(1889-1985), who played in the major leagues for nearly fifteen years and excelled as both a pitcher and outfielder, is perhaps one of the most noteworthy players of the era whose career and life story has faded into relative obscurity. In this detailed biography of Smoky Joe Wood, author Gerald Wood (no relation) chronicles the life and times of this often overlooked baseball legend.
Born in Kansas City in 1889, Wood spent much of his childhood moving from place to place as his restless father sought to improve his lot in life. By the time he reached his early teens, Wood’s family had settled in Ness City, Kansas and Wood’s baseball career began. After playing with several local clubs and minor league teams, Wood was signed at the age of 18 by the Boston Red Sox. Great success as a pitcher followed, until an injury in 1915 ended his pitching career. Joining the Cleveland Indians in 1917, Wood played several more years as an accomplished outfielder. After his playing days were behind him, Wood managed the Yale University baseball team for nearly two decades.
On the last page of the book, author Gerald Wood, Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Carson-Newman College, notes that he is frequently asked if he is related to the subject of his work. While they are not closely related, Professor Wood has clearly become quite acquainted with the subject of his study. Utilizing a number of primary sources including collections of personal papers, a number of personal interviews, and countless newspapers, Wood has clearly unearthed new material that allows for unique insights and fresh perspectives. In addition to this work, Wood also has written a number of articles concerning baseball including several articles about the Chicago Cubs.
This well written and thoroughly researched biography should be of great interest to a diverse audience, particularly those interested in baseball’s Deadball Era. Extensive details throughout, particularly in those portions recounting games in which Wood played, may prove a bit excessive to less dedicated readers but highly interesting to others. The flowing narrative and excellent contextual analysis make for a high quality biographical study. Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend is recommended for large academic libraries, special libraries with collections in baseball or twentieth century biographies, or readers with an interest in these areas.