The Watches of the Night (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Harry M. Caudill established himself as a regional writer of rural Kentucky in 1963 with his book Night Comes to the Cumberlands, an account of the eastern and southern section of Kentucky where coal is king. The primary focus of his novels and books is the despoliation, poverty, and government corruption in the Cumberlands. Darkness at Dawn: Appalachia and the Future, also published in 1976, details the genealogical heritage of Kentucky’s British descendants, describing the culture and tradition of the people. Caudill, a native Kentuckian, rehashes a similar subject, the coal industry that carelessly rapes the environment. The book that established his reputation, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, described the poverty and deprivation in this Kentucky plateau region which is rich in coal. The Watches of the Night is a sequel to Night Comes to the Cumberlands; it updates that book and shows the continued bleakness of lives and politics of the Cumberland Plateau.
The mid- to late-1960’s was doubtless the time for public awareness, good works, and crusades on poverty. It became almost faddish during this time to protest to “gain insight” into the disadvantaged, and so in the mid- to late-1960’s, Kentucky, perhaps the heart of American poverty, was invaded with “hordes of pampered young people” who wanted to “view and interview living and suffering poverty.” Television documentaries, college study...
(The entire section is 1851 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1977)
Booklist. LXXIII, September 1, 1976, p. 8.
Library Journal. CI, November 15, 1976, p. 2386.
National Observer. XV, October 30, 1976, p. 21.
New Yorker. LII, November 1, 1976, p. 165.
Newsweek. LXXXVIII, October 18, 1976, p. 105.
Time. CVIII, November 1, 1976, p. 88.
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