Thomas Kiffmeyer

Reformers to Radicals

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A “well researched and vigorously written” account of social activism, radical politics, and the failed War on Poverty in 1960s Appalachia (Journal of American History).
In 1964, a group of young social activists formed the Appalachian Volunteers with the intention of eradicating poverty in eastern Kentucky and the rest of the Southern mountains. In Reformers to Radicals, author Thomas Kiffmeyer documents the history of this organization as their youthful enthusiasm led to radicalism and controversy.
These reformers sought to improve the lives of the Appalachian poor while making strides toward economic change in the region. Their efforts included refurbishing schools and homes and offering educational opportunities. But in time, these volunteers faced nationwide accusations that they were “seditious” and “un-American.” After losing the support of the federal and state governments and of many Appalachian people, the group to disband in 1970.
Reformers to Radicals examines the various factors that led to the Appalachian Volunteers’ ultimate failure, from infighting within their ranks to tensions with the very people they sought to help. It chronicles a critical era in Appalachian history and investigates the impact the 1960s' reform attitude on the region.
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The University Press of Kentucky
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