West Virginia University Press is the only university press, and the largest publisher of any kind, in the state of West Virginia. A part of West Virginia University, they publish books and scholarly journals by authors around the world, with a particular emphasis on Appalachian studies, history, higher education, the social sciences, and interdisciplinary books about energy, environment, and resources. They also publish works of fiction and creative nonfiction, and collaborate on innovative digital publications, notably West Virginia History: An Open Access Reader.
CONTEMPORARY WRITING IN WEST VIRGINIA
This is as closely-knit an anthology as you are ever likely to see. It is as though a large, extended family were drawing on the same store of family stories, jokes, symbols, landscapes, animals, trees, language, and vernacular. How many snakes are in this book? How many foxes, possums? Fossils? And how very many coal mines? But it is not merely local references that unites these writers. There is a larger vision that ties these works together.
"The connection is not so much in mutual influence, though there is some of that, but in each writer’s total immersion in place. Even those writers who no longer live in the state remember the feel, the physical texture, the overwhelming and enfolding vegetal surround of the place." Editor, Irene McKinney
West Virginia University English Professor Timothy Sweet edited the second volume in our West Virginia and Appalachia series. The Blackwater Chronicle by Philip Pendleton Kennedy was originally published in 1853, but this wilderness travelogue about the exploration of Canaan Valley has appeal far beyond that time and region. In fact, it was originally published in New York and London, and even in a German edition. This often humorous and always fascinating story, told by Kennedy about the journey he and his colleagues took into yet unexplored territory, will make the reader long for days when there was still wilderness on this continent. It will also be of interest to the outdoorsman and should be viewed as an environmental cautionary tale.
A BORDER COUNTY IN THE CIVIL WAR
A border county in a border state, Barbour County, West Virginia felt the full terror and tragedy of the Civil War. The wounds of the Civil War cut most bitterly in the border states, that strip of America from Maryland to Kansas, where conflicting loyalties and traditions ripped apart communities, institutions, and families. Barbour County, in the mountainous Northwest of (West) Virginia, is a telling microcosm of the deep divisions which both caused the war and were caused by it. By examining and interpreting long-ignored documents of the times and the personal accounts of the people who were there, Clash of Loyalties offers a startling new view of America's most bitter hour. Nearly half of the military-age men in the county served in the armed forces, almost perfectly divided between the Union and the Confederacy. After West Virginia split with Virginia to rejoin the Union, Confederate soldiers from the regions could not safely visit their homes on furlough, or even send letters to their families. The county's two leading political figures, Samuel Woods and Spencer Dayton, became leaders of the fight for and against secession, dissolved their close personal friendship, and never spoke to one another again. The two factions launched campaigns of terror and intimidation, leading to the burning of several homes, the kidnapping of a sheriff, the murder of a pacifist minister, and the self-imposed exile of many of the county's influential families. The conflicting loyalties crossed nearly all social and economic lines; even the county's slave owners were evenly divided between Union and Confederate sympathies. With a meticulous examination of census and military records, geneologies, period newspapers, tax rolls, eyewitness accounts, and other relevant documents, Clash of Loyalties presents a compelling account of the passion and violence which tore apart Barbour County and the nation.
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