The Road to Poverty: The Making of Wealth and Hardship in AppalachiaThe Road to Poverty: The Making of Wealth and Hardship in Appalachia by Kathleen M. Blee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We talk quite a bit about poverty and economic disparity in the U.S., but this is one of the few books that takes an in-depth view of the problem. This book is unique in that it combines 100 years of longitudinal social science with the history of Clay County, Kentucky in order to paint a picture of the forces that have helped drive Appalachia’s economic distress.

There are two elements to note: While the book is steeped in science, the writing is narrative. The authors do an excellent job of weaving the history of Clay County with the social science that backs up their findings.; and The book doesn’t paint black-and-white portraits of the issues. Instead the authors explain how the forces at work against Appalachia have grown and shifted, and why those forces developed. This isn’t a book that sets out with an agenda to vilify.

If you’re interested in Appalachia, social science, American history, or poverty, this book will keep you enthralled.

View all my reviews