Cultural historian Jeff Biggers takes us to the dark amphitheatre ruins of his familys nearly 200-year-old hillside homestead that has been strip-mined on the edge of the first federally recognized Wilderness Site in southern Illinois. In doing so, he not only comes to grips with his own denied backwoods heritage, but also chronicles a dark and missing chapter in the American experience: the historical nightmare of coal outside of Appalachia, serving as an expos of a secret legacy of shame and resiliency.
Jeff Biggers has worked as a writer, educator, policy analyst, and radio correspondent across the United States, Europe, India, and Mexico. His award-winning stories have appeared on NPR, PRI, and in scores of magazines and national newspapers. His work has won numerous honors, including an American Book Award, Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism, and "Foreword Magazine" Book of the Year Award. He lives in southern Illinois.