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The Path Was Steep: A Memoir of Appalachian Coal Camps During the Great Depression

Suzanne Pickett

NewSouth Books
$24.95 paperback
6 x 8
224 pages
Norman McMillan, foreword
September 1, 2013

Sue Pickett was a coal miner’s daughter who became a coal miner’s wife. She witnessed the turbulent years of the Great Depression and the sometimes-violent struggles between labor unions and coal mine bosses throughout the Appalachian South—especially in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Mrs. Pickett’s native Alabama.

Her story is peopled with memorable characters—an almost Biblical cast of family members, which includes her irrepressible husband David; the dangerous and feared coal-company enforcer Mike Self; Irene, a fiercely proud ten-year-old mountain girl left homeless by the hard times; a roaring, fire-belching automobile nicknamed Thunderbolt, and many others. Theirs are stories of making do, getting by, and surviving, but they are equally of love of family and land.