There have been at least two recent books published complaining about J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy as a work that encourages a stereotypical view of our region. Forgive me, but - though both contain some similar approaches - neither has the depth of this collection of essays published in 1999. Here, after Dwight's Introduction, the outstanding WVU historian, Ronald L. Lewis jumps right in with "Beyond Isolation and Homogeneity: Diversity and the History of Appalachia." Then follows six essays on "The Literary Sources of Contemporary Stereotypes, all by outstanding authors who know their subject well. The next six essays are personal responses to stereotypes by authors who range from a former welfare recipient and an African-American woman to distinguished writers and scholars. Then comes five essays on Activism in Appalachia, again by well-chosen respondents. The final sections zonks in on the award-winning play, The Kentucky Cycle, which four essays demonstrate is a very recent example of stereotypical treatment of the region. "Thought-provoking, admirably accessible to nonspecialist readers, and offers an excellent introduction to Appalachian regional studies. Essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary and historic Appalachia, it is also a model regional study that provides an excellent comparative perspective for scholars and students of other American regions."―Choice.
Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1999. 350 pages with an Index and a Foreword by Ronald D. Eller. Hardback in dust jacket.