A work that 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.
Despite those contradictions, Twilight in Hazard paints a more nuanced portrait of Appalachia than Vance did. It shines brightest in describing some of the area's colorful characters, from longtime Hazard Mayor Bill Gorman to Chris Fugate, who left his job as a state trooper to become a preacher ministering to people he once arrested. They are fully and generously portrayed. Maimon's exploration of Trump’s appeal feels accurate if not surprising. His takes on poverty, drug addiction and the decline of the coal industry don't ignore the region's history of exploitation, not to mention the indifference of its political leaders ... The book has its flaws, including minor errors of fact. Maimon bemoans the shrinkage of newspapers, noting its impact on the region, but his account of his own departure from the Courier Journal veers into ax-grinding ... In his summation, Maimon serves up one last contradiction ... Maimon has written a worthy addition to the collective body of smart rebuttals to Vance's book, and on some level its contradictions make sense.
Maimon also brings the story up to date. He underscores the hollowness of Trump’s promises to bring back coal jobs and how much partisan politics have stymied halting efforts at progress. Maimon writes with a journalist’s clarity and plainspokenness; he’s an outsider but never condescending, and he’s accepting that some of the truisms about the region are indeed true ... A somber consideration of a broken region that saves the scolding for its leaders instead of its residents.
An empathetic portrait of eastern Kentucky informed by the five years ... Throughout, Maimon’s hope for the region is tempered by an awareness of how difficult it will be to defeat 'the historical and structural forces that keep people in poverty.' Though the overarching themes are familiar, Maimon’s sharp observations and personal stake in the subject make this a standout account of what ails rural America.