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 book 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 book offers a must-needed insider’s perspective on the region.
About the Author
Elizabeth Catte is a writer and historian from East Tennessee. She holds a PhD in public history from Middle Tennessee State University and is the co-owner of Passel, a historical consulting and development company.
"What are we getting wrong about Appalachia? A lot. And we are not just getting it wrong because we do not know. We are getting it wrong because reckoning with the reality of the Appalachia people and culture serves a historical project of disdain, distancing, and deliberate disinvestment in our nation. Elizabeth Catte has written an essential guide on how to talk about race, class, gender and the cultural geographies that shape our lives. Our discourse on Appalachia has been used a cudgel, much of it designed to obscure more than it reveals. Catte uses data and lived experiences to reveal an Appalachia that is not some “othered” out there against which we compare ourselves to make inequality more palatable. This is a necessary antidote to the cyclical mainstream interest in Appalachia as a backwards, white working-class caricature.” —Tressie McMillan Cottom, Professor of Sociology, author, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy
"A necessary response to the bigotry against a much-maligned culture." --Chris Offutt, author, Kentucky Straight
“A bold refusal to submit to stereotype.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Fiercely argued and solidly grounded, this an excellent primer on understanding and resisting the common distortions about Appalachia’s past and present.” —Anthony Harkins, author, Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon
“You couldn't kill this book with a hammer. Come and watch Elizabeth Catte clip the hollow wings of little Jimmy Vance. Stay and behold an enlightened vision, a living solidarity found among the strong and varied peoples of this misunderstood land. What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia asks Florence Reece's old question: Which side are you on? Some of us are sticking to Appalachia until every battle's won.” —Glenn Taylor, author, The Ballad of Trenchmount Taggart
"Succeeds in providing a richer, more complex view of a much-maligned region." —Publishers Weekly
"Highlighting decades of suppressed workers' rights movements, as well as prison facilities that still exploit low-cost labor, Catte expands the perspective on Appalachia. Readers will indeed get more right about this slice of the country after reading her book.” —Cheryl Krocker McKeon for Shelf Awareness
"A 146-page ass-kicker." —Jim Branscome, The Daily Yonder
"What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia is a brief, forceful, and necessary correction." —Frank Guan, Bookforum
"... the most damning critique of Hillbilly Elegy." —Nancy Isenberg, New York Review of Books