In 2001, a community of people in the Appalachian foothills had come to the edge of all they had ever been. Across the South, padlocks and chains bound the doors of silent mills, and it seemed a miracle to blue-collar people in Jacksonville, Alabama, that their mill still bit, shook, and roared. The mill had become almost a living thing, and they served it even as it filled their lungs with lint and shortened their lives. In return, it let them live in stiff-necked dignity in the hills of their fathers.
In these real-life stories, Rick Bragg brilliantly evokes the hardscrabble lives of those who lived and died by an American cotton mill.