Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia, by Steven Stoll
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 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. Drawing powerful connections between Appalachia and other agrarian societies around the world, Stoll demonstrates the vitality of a peasant way of life. His investigation ranges widely from history to literature, art, and economics, questioning our assumptions about progress and development, and exposing the devastating legacy of dispossession and its repercussions today.
“Powerful and outrage-making . . . Stoll clings to a history of what the United States could be. His book becomes a withering indictment of rapacious capitalism.” - The New York Times
“The book is a masterpiece of panoramic history.” - Minneapolis Star Tribune