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Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life Among the Mountaineers
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Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life Among the Mountaineers

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  309 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews

No other book on the Southern Appalachians is more widely known or cited.
"Awonderful book. I like it especially for its color and anecdotes. It is a classic, not only for its accuracy and breadth of insights into the people of the region, but because these people themselves are so interesting and strong."
--Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Paperback, 530 pages
Published December 6th 1976 by University of Tennessee Press (first published 1913)
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Sep 29, 2012 James rated it it was amazing
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is my favorite place on Earth and, as I learned in Ken Burns' National Parks, I owe its existence to Horace Kephart. Kephart was an alcoholic librarian in turn-of-the-century St. Louis who abandoned the life of an urban information professional to hunt and fish and write sporting books and articles in a log cabin at the 'back of beyond.' He dried out, slowly connected with the insular community of cagey mountaineers and, having settled permanently in nearby Br ...more
Apr 24, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it
Our Southern Highlanders, now over a hundred years old, is the first real examination and narrative of the people of the southern Appalachians, and Smoky mountains. The fascinating thing from the standpoint of a century away, is how Kephart writes of the land and people and history, while fully realizing the encroaching modernity that was just beginning to forever change folk ways that had existed since early settlement and was traced back to Scotland.

As a frequent visitor to the Great Smoky Mou
Dec 02, 2012 Peg rated it really liked it
Shelves: north-carolina
Interesting to me because I am a descendant. His portrayal of the Southern people come from his superior attitude of himself. Interesting none the less. It brings images of another time and place.
Nov 21, 2016 A B rated it really liked it

This is a surprisingly funny and touching book in which Horace Kephart details his experiences with the people of Appalachia -the mountain regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Georgia, and North Carolina. His writing is never condescending or judgemental, which I appreciate. Equally interesting is Mr. Kephart himself. I suppose modern psychologists would have a field day with his story, but whatever it was that inspired him to pack up and move to some of the most remote territory in America
Robin Friedman
Jun 02, 2016 Robin Friedman rated it it was amazing
Horace Kephart and the Back of Beyond

In the second chapter of his work, "Our Southern Highlanders: a Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life among the Mountaineers" (1913, 1922), Horace Kephart wrote of some of the forces which had impelled him to leave his materially comfortable earlier life to live in primitive conditions in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Kephart wrote:

"When I went south into the mountains I was seeking a Back of Beyond. Th
Eddie Taylor
Feb 08, 2016 Eddie Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly, a wonderful book about life in Western North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains, in the early 1900's! I believe I read this book years ago as parts of it seemed familiar. I think I got it from the book mobile that used to come up the creek to my Grandmother's farm in rural Yancey county.

I used to spend every summer and every extended school break with my Nanny (Grandmother), and great Grandmother from about 8 years old until I was 15 in 1980. We didn't have TV. Well, we did, but we bare
Jan 22, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War? Moonshine and Corsican Assassins? The Scottish and the Pennsylvania Dutch? How can all of these be addressed in one humble book about Hill Billies?

This book was a wonderful surprises. After watching the Ken Burns National Parks documentaries and hearing Kephart's name over and over again, I was inspired to do some research. I came across this book and the topic instantly interested me. What I found when I began reading was not what I expected.

I expected this bo
Jun 14, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing
What John Muir did for the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Horace Kephart did for the Great Smokies. He brought national attention to a little-known region and its people, and with that came preservation, not of the people but the region.

Kephart moved to the North Carolina side of the mountains and wrote articles for outdoor magazines and several books. “Our Southern Highlanders” is the most famous. A professional librarian in St. Louis, Kephart chose to drop out of life and live Thoreau-like in the wi
Jul 24, 2015 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a revealing, even fascinating, look at the mountain folk of the Southern Appalachians in the opening years of the twentieth century, most notably those in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and eastern Kentucky. Its author lived amongst these folk from 1904 through the early decades of the last century as one of them, and he relates their story in open and honest terms, the good and the bad, alike. Here are stories of bear hunts and moonshine, of hard-scrabble farming in near ...more
Jul 30, 2015 Tim rated it it was amazing
I don't have much to add to to the other reviewers comments particularly those who live in the area concerned.
From a UK point of view it was fascinating to learn that many of those he wrote about came from Scotland.
With them they brought their knowledge of illicit distilling, whisky in Scotland, anything in spirit form in their new country!!
Kephart comes across in all his books as a highly knowledgeable, intelligent, and widely read person with a very good command of the English language and lit
Jun 02, 2013 Timmy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent treatise on Appalachia as I know it. I found it remarkable how relevant this book remains today, over 90 years after being written. What Horace Kephart has written here is very consistent with many of my own experiences, nearly a century later. It can alternately be encouraging or be a little saddening (depending on which characteristic of the mountain people is being discussed) that this book remains so accurate - prescient, even - and that the mountain region and its ...more
Mar 17, 2016 Marjorie rated it really liked it
Personally, I think highly of this book. Others not so much. It was written in 1913. It's a good thing to see value in something that has been around so long.

The geography really explained a lot to me about the remoteness, difficulty of travel, and therefore the isolation of the mountain people. Being from the west coast, the idea that 50-100 miles could be so confining just doesn't resonate.

Moon shine; the most compact, intense valued product from crops. Small and pays well. Better than a wagon
David Antis
Dec 02, 2014 David Antis rated it it was amazing
This was quite simply one of the most enjoyable and informative books I've ever read. Four chapters on moonshining that covered not just the practicalities but also traced the cultural roots to the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania and the Scotch-Irish settled by England in Northern Ireland. Also extensive coverage of bear hunting and family feuds. Highly recommended. Written more than 100 years ago, but still insightful into some of the backwoods of the country. Anyone who enjoyed the ...more
David Ward
Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life Among the Mountaineers by Horace Kephart (MacMillan Co. 1954)(917.5). I loved this! Horace Kephart was a turn-of-the-century alcoholic from a large city in the Midwest when he abandoned his family and moved to the Great Smokies before it became a park. Kephart's plan was to dry out; the move changed his life. He became one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains Nati ...more
John Haake
Nov 24, 2015 John Haake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read about an extraordinary people in the dramatic landscape of the Smokey Mountains. I was reading both the physical book I purchased at the National Park and the free kindle ebook version at the same time and it was had to correlate the reading because I discovered the free ebook was the shorter first edition and the purchased physical book was the longer second edition. In both electronic form and the physical 2nd edition, you'll find wonderful tales of the hills.
Edwin Martin
first half of the book was a fun, informative read as he shares his experiences living among the people around what is now Smoky Mountains National Park. Then things slow down as he does more analysis of what he sees and hears from these people and shares lots of knowledge about them and their roots from many other authors and historians. You will enjoy it but must be prepared to skip a few chapters, like the one on their speech.
Kathy Fleming
Aug 09, 2015 Kathy Fleming rated it it was amazing
I was surprised to find this book so wonderfully accurate; a story of a people; my people, devoid of sentimentality but also charming, sometimes kind and sharing the strength and stubbornness I grew up with in Western NC. I can see my grandmothers in here, and my dad. I read it all the way through, and would love to have dinner with Horace Kephart and talk to him about his remarkable experiences with this diaspora.
Feb 20, 2010 Sean rated it really liked it
Not quite the history I wanted, but I had a romantic history of my own creation in my head. I prefer reality, even if I'm less inclined to be an Appalachian mountaineer having read this book. These people are the most American of America, and even among their distinct privation and crudeness borne of solitary independence, perhaps more honorable and respectable than any of us could ever hope to be.
Feb 04, 2015 Sam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Horace Kepharts narrative reads almost like fiction, in that the story of his experiences with the Appalachian Mountain Men is fascinating and illuminating. The varied backgrounds from where the Mountain Men descended is revealed in the way they live and survive and thrive. I need to read this book again!
Aug 14, 2015 Philip rated it it was amazing
Horace Kephart was a genius (he wrote the "bible" on back-woods survival") with a wonderful sense of timeless humour and a keen eye for detail. His account of his travels and experiences amongst the people of the Appalachians is fascinating and challenges many of the stereotypes about "hill-billies". I have not laughed so much in ages. A great read, I couldn't put it down.
Oct 27, 2009 Piedmont_Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great if you are interested in the region. Somewhat dated since Kephart was writing a little after the turn of the century. Very detailed and revealing look at the region far before tourism was even a factor. Kephart thrived on the wilderness and isolation and sold some stories to Field and Stream magazine before writing this book.
Andy Alexis
Aug 11, 2010 Andy Alexis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book about "the hillbillies". It sounds like they were completely isolated from society until the 1920s; this book was written in the very early part of the 20th century. The writer treats his subjects well; they are people, and not lab rats.
Sep 27, 2007 Magda rated it really liked it
‘Thus doth sinless North Carolina look down upon sinful Tennessee.’

‘Corsican vendetta or Kentucky feud--what are language and race against age-long isolation and an environment that keeps humanity feral to the core?’
Dec 02, 2009 Duane rated it it was ok
Insightful book into the Appalachian Mountains and culture, but too much time is spent by the author discussing moonshining. Apparently it was a huge fascination for him or he was just a raging alcoholic.
Sep 22, 2013 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joe by: Emily Robinson
Really neat perspective on the inhabitants of the Southern Appalachians from about 100 years ago. It's fascinating to see both what has changed and what hasn't.
Dec 02, 2013 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Appalachian natives: a must read. Find why you say & do some quirky things. Outsiders: read it to understand our craziness!
Jim Parker
Oct 25, 2013 Jim Parker rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute must read for anyone from Western North Carolina and highly recommended for anyone just interested in the area.
Brett Decker
Jul 26, 2012 Brett Decker rated it it was amazing
smokies legend horace kephart, lived in the the smokies and writes about life there as only a resident could.
Feb 17, 2011 Jacki rated it it was amazing
The book that got me on the path to non-fiction. Love this book and the historical aspect of the "hills folks."
Beth Ingersoll
Sep 01, 2016 Beth Ingersoll rated it liked it
Shelves: gave-up
I liked it OK, but wasn't quite what I was hoping for so I stopped maybe a third of the way through.
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