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What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia

Written by: Elizabeth Catte
Narrated by: Jo Anna Perrin
Length: 4 hrs and 15 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

In 2016, headlines declared Appalachia ground zero for America's "forgotten tribe" of white working-class voters. Journalists flocked to the region to extract sympathetic profiles of families devastated by poverty, abandoned by establishment politics, and eager to consume cheap campaign promises. 

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia is a frank assessment of America's recent fascination with the people and problems of the region. The audiobook analyzes trends in contemporary writing on Appalachia, presents a brief history of Appalachia with an eye toward unpacking Appalachian stereotypes, and provides examples of writing, art, and policy created by Appalachians as opposed to for Appalachians. 

The audiobook offers a much-needed insider's perspective on the region.

©2018 Elizabeth Catte (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emily C. H. Thomas
  • 10-04-19

Great Content, Lousy Reader

I struggled multiple times with the reader for this book - there's lots of unnecessary pauses that sometimes punctuate the middle of sentences unnecessarily, and it was very stiff, even in places that the words indicated should be more emphatic or emotional. the content is great, giving a history of progressive movements founded in Appalachia (including the real origin of the word "redneck") as well as how multiple adminstrative and legislative moves have worked to keep Appalachia (and its residents) poor. I recommend the book, if not the audio, to anyone looking to further their understanding of Appalachia from its oversimplified appearance in the media.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Semisomnambulant
  • 02-02-19

Vital and Searing

Amazing, no-pulled-punches account of the history of labor struggles, eugenics, classism, and the continued battle for clean air, clean water, and decent work in Appalachia, not as separate from the rest of the US, but as a microcosm of our larger struggle against capitalism and exploitation. Absolutely essential read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lynne
  • 13-01-20

Antidote to JD Vance pablum/ nicely read

Writing the review mostly as a counter vote to the ones claiming the reading is bad. It's not bad. I'm picky and I found Perrin's reading (just glanced up to find her name) clear, listenable, just fine. De gustibus and all, but she didn't bug me in the least. Wonderful book.

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  • Lana Whited
  • 01-10-19

Let Appalachian people read their own stories

This book has a great deal of integrity. The author and her research are authentic. I learned quite a lot about the Appalachia I have adopted. But when a book is about authenticity, why is the reader not from Appalachia? I could recommend many people who are trained actors who still sound like they’re from around here, as Appalachian people say.

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  • Jason Buchanan
  • 30-03-19

Why is every culture diverse...except Appalachians?

I listened to this after listening to Hillbilly Elegy. Which should be titled MY Hillbilly Elegy as it centers on ONE family and ONE families outcomes...but I digress.

The history part of this book was great and as a researcher myself I appreciated it. Problem is it takes one persons narrative (I.e., Elegy) and made it one cultures narrative. Everyone has a story and many things have influenced their stories. That doesn’t make everyone have the same story...

As the saying goes (and we hill-folk have lots of them) all poodles are dogs, but that doesn’t mean all dogs are poodles!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 02-10-19

Fair To Appalachia

This is a great follow up to "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance or all on its own. This text posits another point of view on life in Appalachia. I think some of the criticism directed at Vance is too rough.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-03-19

Stop trying to make us fit into your ideology

I absolutely hated this book. almost as much as I hated the Ellis book. I'm so tired of well to do hill people (that have abandoned the mountains or not even really lived here at all) looking down their noses at us, trying to make a vastly diverse people into what they think we should be. its real simple and crazy complex at the same time. Ellis says we are too lazy and at complete fault for the state of our lives. this author is hell bent on making us out to be well meaning simpletons, who only support trump because of coal, but really we are misguided progressives. pick a lane. either were poor because we are stupid or were stupid because we are poor.

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  • B. Simerman
  • 11-12-18

A hypersensitive response

This book is a pride-driven rebuttal to “Hillbilly Elegy.” The author makes great points about the positives of Appalachia, but the book is continually anchored in defense against anyone who speaks stereotypically of the culture sometimes stuck in time. Like anywhere in the US or the world, parts of Appalachia are exploited and stereotyped. It happens. It’s a shame. Like any stereotype, the reader should know it is not a universal truth. This book devotes it’s thesis to proving the point that stereotypes are not universal definitions. Just as the Wild and Wonderful Whites don’t represent every West Virginian, J.D. Vance’s poor folk portrayal of Appalachia does not define the whole Appy culture. “What You Are Getting Wrong...” tries repeatedly to drive that simple point home.

Catte’s points are not wrong, and she makes a valiant defense of West Virginia’s people. As an Appalachian raising my children in Appalachia, having graduated from undergraduate and graduate programs from two institutions inside the heart of the region, I related more to Vance’s description than Catte’s. I also found it more entertaining.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MPet
  • 26-12-18

fails, sadly

This book is 100% a response to Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy." It tries to prove that Appalachia is actually much more nuanced than Vance suggests! And it fails to do so. Right when the opportunity presents itself for actually adding details that prove her point, the author swerves back into generalities. There are gay people in Appalachia (How many? How much support do they get?) All attempts to show multicultural nuance fail. I like her motive but the result is just misplaced anger.