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Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia (2017)

de Steven Stoll

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1152186,282 (3.3)5
Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, from the earliest European settlers. He covers crucial episodes such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the founding of West Virginia, and the arrival of timber and coal companies that set off a devastating "scramble for Appalachia." Along the way Stoll questions our assumptions about progress and development, and exposes the devastating legacy of dispossession and its repercussions today.-- "In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, and why it matters. He begins with the earliest European settlers, whose desire for vast forests to hunt in was frustrated by absentee owners--including George Washington and other founders--who laid claim to the region. Even as Daniel Boone became famous as a backwoods hunter and guide, the economy he represented was already in peril. Within just a few decades, Appalachian hunters and farmers went from pioneers to pariahs, from heroes to hillbillies, in the national imagination, and the area was locked into an enduring association with poverty and backwardness. Stoll traces these developments with empathy and precision, examining crucial episodes such as the Whiskey Rebellion, the founding of West Virginia, and the arrival of timber and coal companies that set off a devastating "scramble for Appalachia." At the center of Ramp Hollow is Stoll's sensitive portrayal of Appalachian homesteads. Perched upon ridges and tucked into hollows, they combined small-scale farming and gardening with expansive foraging and hunting, along with distilling and trading, to achieve self-sufficiency and resist the dependence on cash and credit arising elsewhere in the United States. But the industrialization of the mountains shattered the ecological balance that sustained the households. Ramp Hollow recasts the story of Appalachia as a complex struggle between mountaineers and profit-seeking forces from outside the region. Drawing powerful connections between Appalachia and other agrarian societies around the world, Stoll demonstrates the vitality of a peasant way of life that mixes farming with commerce but is not dominated by a market mind-set. His original investigation, ranging widely from history to literature, art, and economics, questions our assumptions about progress and development, and exposes the devastating legacy of dispossession and its repercussions today."--Book jacket.… (més)
  1. 00
    The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time de Karl Polanyi (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: Stoll's book expands on the themes of Polanyi and applies them to the world of the early settlers of Appalachia.
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After proving that human history at least for the last 700 years or so shows clear evidence that some people always take control and the rest of the people get trodden down, the author concludes that more government intervention is the way to lift these down-trodden back up. It is a surprising conclusion, given that the problems of Appalachia, in particular, came about as a result government programs that, at least nominally, were supposed to be good for these very same people. ( )
  hmskip | Jun 29, 2019 |
"Ramp Hollow" is much more than a detailed history of Appalachia. It provides valuable perspectives on regions around the world based upon sustenance economies. He paints a gripping picture of life for the early settlers of Appalachia explaining that their success came from access to the "commons" represented by the forests of the area. The forests allowed them to hunt and gather what they needed beyond the patch of ground that they had staked out. When logging and coal mining companies arrived, they created enclosures that cut off these settlers from those commons in a way that impoverished those settlers.

The book provides a deep understanding of topics like the Whiskey Rebellion and the culture of settlers which are generally brushed over rapidly in American history classes. Stoll's book provides an excellent expansion of topics covered in Polanyi's "Great Transformation" and Graeber's "Debt: The First 5000 Years".

Finally, although the book is somewhat scholarly in tone, I found it a real page-turner. ( )
1 vota M_Clark | Jan 4, 2018 |
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Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, from the earliest European settlers. He covers crucial episodes such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the founding of West Virginia, and the arrival of timber and coal companies that set off a devastating "scramble for Appalachia." Along the way Stoll questions our assumptions about progress and development, and exposes the devastating legacy of dispossession and its repercussions today.-- "In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, and why it matters. He begins with the earliest European settlers, whose desire for vast forests to hunt in was frustrated by absentee owners--including George Washington and other founders--who laid claim to the region. Even as Daniel Boone became famous as a backwoods hunter and guide, the economy he represented was already in peril. Within just a few decades, Appalachian hunters and farmers went from pioneers to pariahs, from heroes to hillbillies, in the national imagination, and the area was locked into an enduring association with poverty and backwardness. Stoll traces these developments with empathy and precision, examining crucial episodes such as the Whiskey Rebellion, the founding of West Virginia, and the arrival of timber and coal companies that set off a devastating "scramble for Appalachia." At the center of Ramp Hollow is Stoll's sensitive portrayal of Appalachian homesteads. Perched upon ridges and tucked into hollows, they combined small-scale farming and gardening with expansive foraging and hunting, along with distilling and trading, to achieve self-sufficiency and resist the dependence on cash and credit arising elsewhere in the United States. But the industrialization of the mountains shattered the ecological balance that sustained the households. Ramp Hollow recasts the story of Appalachia as a complex struggle between mountaineers and profit-seeking forces from outside the region. Drawing powerful connections between Appalachia and other agrarian societies around the world, Stoll demonstrates the vitality of a peasant way of life that mixes farming with commerce but is not dominated by a market mind-set. His original investigation, ranging widely from history to literature, art, and economics, questions our assumptions about progress and development, and exposes the devastating legacy of dispossession and its repercussions today."--Book jacket.

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