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Extended Audio Sample Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area, by Harry M. Caudill Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (137 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Harry M. Caudill Narrator: Ed Sal Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The late Harry M. Caudill saw the land and people of Appalachia with an unflinching eye. His classic, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, follows the long road traveled by the Southern mountaineer.

His biography of the Cumberland Plateau begins in the violence of Indian wars and ends in the economic despair of the 1950s and 1960s. Two hundred years ago, the plateau was a land of promise. The deep, twisting valleys contained rich bottomlands; the mountainsides, teeming with game, produced mighty timber. Some of the people who settled this land in the eighteenth century may have come from the slums of England, but they became intrepid explorers like Simon Kenton and Jim Bridger. They lived by scratch farming, hunting, and making moonshine whiskey. The Civil War ravaged their land, leaving in its wake a legacy of hate which erupted in the great Kentucky mountain feuds and continued in the “Moonshine Wars” of the Prohibition era.

In the late nineteenth century, the coal men came into the isolated valleys and easily persuaded the mountaineers to sign away their mineral rights for pitifully small sums. The countryside was then systematically plundered in what constitutes one of the ugliest eras of exploitation in American history.

At the time it was written, Night Comes to the Cumberlands framed an urgent appeal to the American conscience. Today it details Appalachia’s difficult past, and, at the same time, presents an accurate historical backdrop for a contemporary understanding of the Appalachian region that Harry M. Caudill loved so dearly and served so well.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[A] masterpiece of cogent argument for specific solutions to specific problems.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Dianna Ott | 11/21/2013

    " Written by my cousin Harry about the place where I grew up. This book is hard to read nowadays. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Elizabeth | 10/19/2013

    " Not a big fan of Caudill. He sensationalizes and can be very derogatory. His books certainly have some good information if you are good at gleaning though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Lynne Premo | 9/30/2013

    " A classic work of nonfiction about how the Appalachian coalfields became the way they are. Unfortunately, not much has changed since the publication of this work in the 1960s. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sarah | 7/30/2013

    " I thought this was a rather thought-provoking read when it came to the poverty of the Appalachians area, namely Kentucky. "

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About the Author

Harry M. Caudill (1922–1990) was an author, historian, lawyer, legislator, and environmentalist from Letcher County, in the coalfields of southeastern Kentucky.