The Ozarks of the mid-1800s was a land of divisions. The uplands and its people inhabited a geographic and cultural borderland straddling Midwest and west, North and South, frontier and civilization, and secessionist and Unionist. As civil war raged across the region, neighbor turned against neighbor, unleashing a generation of animus and violence that lasted long after 1865. The second volume of Brooks Blevins's history begins with the region's distinctive relationship to slavery. Largely unsuitable for plantation farming, the Ozarks used enslaved persons on a smaller scale or, in some places, not at all. Blevins moves on to the devastating Civil War years where the dehumanizing, personal nature of Ozark conflict was made uglier by the predations of marching armies and criminal gangs. Blending personal stories with a wide narrative scope, he examines how civilians and soldiers alike experienced the war, from brutal partisan warfare to ill-advised refugee policies to women's struggles to safeguard farms and stay alive in an atmosphere of constant danger. The war stunted the region's growth, delaying the development of Ozarks society and the processes of physical, economic, and social reconstruction. More and more, striving uplanders dedicated to modernization fought an image of the Ozarks as a land of mountaineers and hillbillies hostile to the idea of progress. Yet the dawn of the twentieth century saw the uplands emerge as an increasingly uniform culture forged, for better and worse, in the tumult of a conflicted era.
About the Author
Brooks Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University. He is the author or editor of nine books, including A History of the Ozarks, Volume 1: The Old Ozarks; Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South; and Arkansas, Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State.
Published by University of Illinois Press, September, 2019. Hardcover, 320 pages.