By Rob Neufeld
For those who visit and those who make the region their home, there is something captivating about the mountains of Western North Carolina. These ancient hills have cradled a culture that encompasses Cherokee heritage, pioneer legacies and urban visions. With a warm, accessible style, longtime Asheville Citizen-Times writer Rob Neufeld offers an exploration of Western North Carolina’s history through the stories of its people.
We meet Lillian Exum Clement, the first female legislator in the South; and Nina Simone, the African American singing prodigy from Tryon. We get to view controversial elements of the Civil War in Western North Carolina from multiple points of view and draw our own conclusions. We comprehend the variety of people who have created the region as it exists now―alive with traditions, contradictions and promise. Instead of merely reciting historical fact, Neufeld helps readers understand the history of the mountains by allowing us to “walk in the shoes” of the Native Americans, farmers, soldiers and others who preceded us. More than an enlightening read, this book illuminates the progression of frontier life that we have come to know as Western North Carolina history. By linking the lives and experiences of the land’s various inhabitants, Neufeld captures the spirit of Appalachia within this volume.