Many today consider Loyal Jones to be one of the prime the progenitors of Appalachian Studies, and with good reason, as he did establish the very first academic Appalachian Center at Berea College back in 1970. Before that he worked for the Council of the Southern Mountains throughout most of the 1960s. But Loyal is so much more than a pioneer, scholar, and organizer of things Appalachian. Most who know him claim his as the nicest man they have ever known. And the fact that he has written several joke books attests to his good humor. Certainly it would not have been nearly as easy to establish the superstructure that supports Appalachian Studies without quietly charismatic and personally compelling people like Loyal. I first worked with him in the summer of 1963 at the Council, and we have worked together in various ways ever since. He is now in a nursing home as a result of a series of seizures, but he is still sharp as a tack, and I enjoy visiting him there. Loyal is not only deeply religious himself, but also a student of mountain religion, and this book is easily viewed as the definitive book on the subject.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999. 245 pages. Trade paperback.