Twilight in Hazard
“This book is harrowing, angering, and, most importantly, true.” —Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home
From investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist Alan Maimon comes the story of how a perfect storm of events has had a devastating impact on life in small town Appalachia, and on the soul of a shaken nation…
When Alan Maimon got the assignment in 2000 to report on life in rural Eastern Kentucky, his editor at the Louisville Courier-Journal told him to cover the region “like a foreign correspondent would.”
And indeed, when Maimon arrived in Hazard, Kentucky fresh off a reporting stint for the New York Times’s Berlin bureau, he felt every bit the outsider. He had landed in a place in the vice grip of ecological devastation and a corporate-made opioid epidemic—a place where vote-buying and drug-motivated political assassinations were the order of the day.
While reporting on the intense religious allegiances, the bitter, bareknuckled political rivalries, and the faltering attempts to emerge from a century-long coal-based economy, Maimon learns that everything—and nothing—you have heard about the region is true. And far from being a foreign place, it is a region whose generations-long struggles are driven by quintessentially American forces.
Resisting the easy cliches, Maimon’s Twilight in Hazard gives us a profound understanding of the region from his years of careful reporting. It is both a powerful chronicle of a young reporter’s immersion in a place, and of his return years later—this time as the husband of a Harlan County coal miner’s daughter—to find the area struggling with its identity and in the thrall of Trumpism as a political ideology.
Twilight in Hazard refuses to mythologize Central Appalachia. It is a plea to move past the fixation on coal, and a reminder of the true costs to democracy when the media retreats from places of rural distress. It is an intimate portrait of a people staring down some of the most pernicious forces at work in America today while simultaneously being asked: How could you let this happen to yourselves?