What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia

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. Th...

Details What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia

TitleWhat You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia
Release DateFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherBelt Publishing
GenreNonfiction, History, Politics, Sociology

Reviews What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia

  • Jessaka
    A Rebuttal to Hillbilly ElegyWhile reading Hillbilly Elegy was a fun read, I also saw it as a book that held the same ideals as those of a certain segment of our society that believe that you just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get religion, and then all will be okay. Hillbilly Elegy also stereotyped those living in the Appalachian Mountains. For some reason they were all white Scot-Irish when they are also from other European co...
  • Carrie
    If you felt at all compelled to read Hillbilly Elegy, do yourself a favor by reading Elizabeth Catte's work. She convincingly tears apart many of the stereotypes Vance perpetuates, giving a much more nuanced history of the region, from the vast exploitation of land, people, and resources to the resulting labor movements and radical acts of rebellion. Recent media coverage portraying parts of Appalachia as backward and tragically impoverished is n...
  • Bruce Sheridan
    I started reading Elizabeth Catte’s book and could not stop. I’ve underlined and written notes all through the text of course. My guess is that a good proportion of my friends saw thorough J. D. Vance’s hideous “Hillbilly Elegy”, but it’s a monster best seller and soon to be Ron Howard movie, so maybe not. Read this. Catte eviscerates Vance (who at one point she likens to the monster in ”It Follows”), along with other prime exampl...
  • Sean
    Not just a refreshing rebuttal to JD Vance's troubling memoir; a great leftist primer on diversity and agency in Appalachia.
  • stephanie
    Everyone, please read this book.
  • David
    Myths (not to say "Lies") about Appalachia have a long history of being used for various purposes, not often for the good of the region. Those myths keep the rest of ignorant, too, so that's why I'm strongly urging everyone to read this book. It won't take much of your time, but you'll be better for it.If you read Hillbilly Elegy, you MUST read this. If you didn't read that book, you should still read this one, and not only so you know what to sa...
  • Matthew Noe
    A vital rebuke of Vance, but more than that, a strong foundational history of the region that leaves you ready for more. Which, kindly enough, Catte provides plenty of suggestions on where to go next.
  • Duane Gosser
    Wow! I had mixed emotions during/after reading Hillbilly Elegy but was blissfully unaware of the ties to white supremacy movements and advocates noted in this book. This is a must read for anyone interested in the history and issues for Appalachia.
  • Ashley
    Summarizing this book is an act in creating understatements, because in under 150 pages it addresses the outsider stereotyping of Appalachia as the main hub of "Trump Country" and the story that West Virginia, et. al. was responsible for Trump winning the election; it tackles the logic behind the "Trump Country" label in people outside of Appalachia taking J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy as fact; and last, it covers the radical history of Appalachi...
  • Karin
    She gives voice to my issues with "Hillbilly Elegy" ("In Elegy...white Appalachians take on the qualities of an oppressed minority much in the same way that conservative individuals view African Americans: as people who have suffered hardships, but ultimately are only holding themselves back. This construction allows conservative intellectuals to talk around stale stereotypes of African Americans and other nonwhite individuals while holding up th...
  • Scott Schneider
    A wonderful rebuttal to Hillbilly Elegy which shows the people of Appalachia as resilient and defiant with a long history of opposition to the powerful interests that are raping their section of the country. I like how she wrote so much about the images we see of Appalachia through photographs. She reminds us of the mine strikes, Highlander Center, Appalshop and many other progressive movements there. Even though this is "Trump Country" most peop...
  • Phil Overeem
    A sharp, thought-provoking, fair, and well-supported book that treats the varied residents of Appalachian with dignity and refocuses the reader on segments of our population that benefit from those residents' misrepresentation. The tone can be a bit defensive, but, hell, I liked that.
  • Seth D Michaels
    Very thoughtful and compelling. Designed primarily as a corrective to books like Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis and the coverage of Appalachia around the 2016 election, but worth reading on its own: a study of how Appalachia has been willfully misunderstood by people looking to extract either coal or political advantage from it, and the historic streak of radical politics that still exists, running counter to Appalach...
  • Mike
    I can't think of a more remarkable example of the paranoid versus reparative reading that Eve Sedgwick discusses in "Touching Feeling" than the contrast between J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy and Elizabeth Catte's brilliant rebuttal, What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia. A concise, multi-pronged attack of politically motivated treatises, it does a delightful job not just of responsible history, but queering some of the binaries that exist in...
  • Colleen E. Wynn
    Catte does an excellent job of making the history of Appalachia accessible here and tying this into present narratives about Appalachia. This is the book you should be reading about Appalachia not that ‘Hillbilly’ one.
  • Ryan
    Catte's book is a welcome corrective to the self-aggrandizing poor-white-Appalachia version that JD Vance has been selling like hotcakes. Instead of trafficking in poverty porn, Catte offers a firm rebuttal of Vance's vision with a clear, progressive, inclusive path forward. The book embraces the MANY different Appalachian identities that might pave the way, rather than valorizing the vanishing coal miner, whose image might at once stand for nobl...
  • Lucy
    If you shared any articles analyzing the 2016 election through the lens of coal miners in West Virginia -- either from the perspective of casting blame or calling for empathy -- and especially if you read and enjoyed J.D. Vance's horrible Hillbilly Elegy, you owe it to yourself to read this book. It's a short but powerful read that challenges monolithic depictions of Appalachia as pure, white, conservative "Trump country," and deftly explains the...
  • Charlie Compton
    This a great counterpoint to J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, and a great primer in the revolutionary history of appalachians. The second section in particular, which directly addressed some of the ideas from Vance's book, is particularly great. It helped to put a more solid explanation to some of the things that troubled me about his book. Unlike Vance, who writes that he will offer no real analysis while offering ham-handed and trite analysis, Cat...
  • Carol
    This small (under 150 pages and 5x7) volume is a challenging but important read. The writing is a patchwork of academic online essays and heartfelt story telling. If you check out a library copy to read, you are going to want to buy a copy so you can underline, highlight, and make margin notes. When I read Hillbilly Elegy, I argued out loud with J.D. Vance’s words. He views Appalachia through a solid conservative and corporate lens and he has i...
  • Robin Drake
    I read all things pertaining to Appalachia. This little book packs a powerful punch! It delves into the history of abuse by power of the region and the "colonization" by outsiders for their own greed. It also traces the history of the people standing up and fighting back with coal companies, mountaintop removal guys, and politicians. She makes an argument against Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. She states"Appalachia is a battleground , where industry ba...
  • Rachel Blakeman
    I'm not sure what I am getting wrong about Appalachia and I just finished this book. The author didn't seem to know where she wanted to go with this aside from getting it out the door to capitalize on the enthusiasm about "Hillbilly Elegy." It had a very haphazard "structure" that never really answered the question. I think she assumed the reader knew a lot more about Appalachian history than most do. Unfortunately she kept comparing it to a book...
  • Ann Cooper
    Interesting rebuttal to the J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy, which the author maintains offers a personal story that relies on old and worn stereotypes of the region. Catte emphasises the many times, in the past and present, when the people of various parts of Appalachia have fought back against the outside commercial interests that have devastated the environment and hurt working people (union busting; strip mining that flattens mountains and pollut...
  • Renée
    Catte powerfully takes on JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy. She compellingly researches the issues Vance raises and gives a more nuanced view based on much more than personal agenda. The book is worth reading for this aspect alone. But, I would say the most compelling parts of Catte’s work is not when she’s dismantling Vance, but when she explores ideas that are wholly her own. The end of the book is reverie on a picture that defies stereotype. Thi...
  • Evadare Volney
    Exactly what I hoped it would be, and more - a straightforward, heartfelt, fact-filled refutation of certain flavors of crap going around about Appalachia these days (and the author does a great job of describing exactly how this stereotypical idea of Appalachia has been created for outsiders, to justify devastating economic and environmental exploitation.) It's short and intense and witty and enraging in parts, and healing for those who are like...
  • Chris Nyden
    "I felt I was radicalized or politicized or whatever by the people who lived in the mountains themselves." Great summary of labor and environmental struggles throughout Appalachia. Catte provides an incisive response to J.D. Vance's interpretation of Appalachia and recent history, providing a much broader view of a region that's home to 25 million people. The book certainly provides a leftist image of Appalachia, but it is well-supported in resea...
  • Alex Williams
    Elizabeth Catte does a wonderful job explaining the complex history of Appalachians and our history of activism, diversity, and resistance. She sheds a lot of light on how it benefits corporations to paint Appalachia as "the other" and provides multiple examples of this falsehood throughout American history. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially those who struggle to understand Appalachia or who have read the unfortunate excuse for...
  • Scott Helms
    Tearful and Hopeful FinishIf you want to learn about Vance, read Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. If you want to REALLY KNOW Appalachia, read this wonderful ethnography of a historically challenged (mostly not by their own hands) yet artfully and culturally resolute region.I found myself pleasantly emerging into rabbit holes of the region from which I may never emerge, and I couldn’t be happier.Please read this book if you TRULY want to understand Ap...
  • Justin
    This is a necessary book and a wonderful read. My only concern is with its brevity. Parts felt rushed; Catte could have taken more time to linger on stories or explanations (or context). Despite her frustration, she never turns the book into a screed, but it feels like something she wanted to get out quickly. The version of this book that's twice as long would be amazing. As it is, this one's still essential.
  • Shayna Ross
    I'm a little mixed on this book - I felt that Catte made a lot of good and crucially important points regarding the Appalachia region, especially in regards to people of color. However, her vendetta writing this book seemed to be very personal and appear to have some deep issues against J.D. Vance. Maybe I missed something, but I found her writing to be pretty intense at times and I wonder if there was another way to approach this.