This is one of the most important books about Appalachia in the last decade. In a nutshell, he takes Harriette Arnow’s thesis that 19th Century Appalachia was a land of relatively equal yeoman farmers and Wilma Dunaway’s antithesis that Appalachia has always been integrated into American capitalism and establishes a synthesis around his concept of a makeshift economy. Importantly he expands upon the central concept of Kathryn Newfont’s Blue Ridge Commons emphasizing how important common ground is to sustaining smallholders, and how devastating the appropriation of common ground has been to freeholders throughout the world. Not since Rodger Cunningham’s Apples on the Flood has a book about Appalachia incorporated an international perspective so thoroughly. "Stunning . . . Everything the real hillbillies wanted [J.D]. Vance to acknowledge is laid out majestically . . . Ramp Hollow offers a granular chronicle of how wealth, poverty and inequality accrete, layer upon generational layer . . . [It] should be read . . . for the compassion and historical attention that Mr. Stoll devotes to this long-maligned region . . ." ―Beth Macy. "In this sweeping, provocative study, Steven Stoll comes to the defense of American pioneers and smallholders everywhere. Focusing on the mountaineers of West Virginia, Stoll argues that a largely successful household mode of production, connected to a larger ecological commons, was not isolated and backwards until it was impoverished by industrial invasion. He ties the undermining of Appalachia highlanders back to the enclosing of early-modern Britain, and to the continuing dispossession of African smallholders today." ―Brian Donahue. "In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll has written both a scholarly masterpiece about the history of dispossessed men and women and a profoundly humane critique of capitalism in the present as well as the past. Anyone who reads this book will never think about the people who live in 'coal country' the same way again." ―Michael Kazin. "A deep and moving chronicle of dispossession, Steven Stoll's Ramp Hollow manages, like no other account I have seen, to combine a subtle understanding of Appalachian subsistence practices with a global understanding of the importance of the commons. Erudite, conceptually powerful, magnificently documented, and deeply sympathetic, Ramp Hollow is an instant classic of agrarian history." ―James C. Scott. The author, Steven Stoll, is a formidable scholar who grew up in Southern California and did his undergraduate work at Berkeley. He received a master's degree and a doctorate in history from Yale. He has taught throughout his career at Fordham. This is his fifth book from a major publisher.
New York: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux: a 2018 paperback reprint of a 2017 release. 410 pages with an Index, Bibliography, Notes, and photos. Trade paperback