The Most They Ever Had (Paperback)

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  The Most They Ever Had by Pulitzer
Prize winner Rick Bragg may just be the most powerful work of a stunningly
gifted author.  He bears witness to the lives of good, hard working people
who toiled in the cotton mill in Jacksonville Alabama.  His words show he
honors telling their stories, giving them the respect and dignity their hard
working lives deserve. He does not let them down, conveying their essence with
power; “You need not use foul language to damn a
man here. Just say a day’s work would kill him, and you tore him down to the
bald nothing.”  
We used to
value hard work in this country.  The people in this book are proud
people, folk who take pride in working hard to provide for their
families.  They don’t expect much, just a roof over their heads, a newer
car every once in a while, and maybe a night at the movies.  They are not
anticipating easy lives or great wealth.  Is it too much to expect a safe
working environment and a living wage?  Apparently it is.  Rick Bragg
has written a eulogy to the time in America where we built things rather than
chased ever faster after the next deal, the easy dollar, and the fastest way to
chase the money.  Now a company’s parts are worth more than its whole, the
jobs can be done cheaper overseas, and the bad boys of Wall Street need to be
kept happy.  We have become a nation of financiers.  A nation
obsessed with flashy ball players paid mega dollars to play a game, CEO’s
bringing home checks with so many zeroes it will make your head hurt, starlets
wearing next to nothing, and reality shows illustrating the decline of our
culture.  In this era of bigger is better, more, more, more, Rick Bragg
has written a book about the lives of hard working, everyday people who hold
their dignity close.  Rick reminds us of a set of values and a way of life
that defined our country far better than the lust for the deal, and fast money
culture of late.  This book is a powerhouse!

— Deon Stonehouse

January 2010 Indie Next List

“Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg has written a powerful account of the lives of the good, hardworking people who were employed in the cotton mill in Jacksonville, Alabama. In giving them the respect and dignity they deserve he reminds us of a set of values and a way of life that defined our country far better than the lust for the deal and fast money. This book is a powerhouse!”
— Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR


In the spring of 2001, a community of people in the Appalachian foothills of northern Alabama had come to the edge of all they had ever known. Across the South, padlocks and logging chains bound the doors of silent mills, and it seemed a miracle to blue-collar people in Jacksonville that their mill still bit, shook, and roared. The century-old hardwood floors still trembled under whirling steel, and people worked on, in a mist of white air. The mill had become almost a living thing, rewarding the hardworking and careful with the best payday they ever had, but punishing the careless and clumsy, taking a finger, a hand, more. The mill was here before the automobile, before the flying machine, and the mill workers 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. So, when death did come, no one had to ship their bodies home on a train. This is a mill story—not of bricks, steel, and cotton, but of the people who suffered it to live.

About the Author

Rick Bragg is the author of five books including the bestsellers All Over but the Shoutin’, Ava’s Man, and The Prince of Frogtown. He was born and raised on the outskirts of Jacksonville, Alabama, the mill town that is the subject of this book. A newspaper and magazine writer who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1996, Bragg is currently a professor of writing at The University of Alabama.

Praise For…

“It is hard to think of a writer who reminds us more forcefully and wonderfully of what people and families are all about.”
New York Times Book Review

“Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bragg again creates a soulful, poignant portrait of working-class southern life.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Bragg has] a true gift for great storytelling, the kind . . . that makes you think it’s just a plain old story, until he gets to the end and you’re either weeping or covered with goosebumps.”
—New Orleans Times-Picayune
Product Details
ISBN: 9780817356835
ISBN-10: 0817356835
Publisher: University Alabama Press
Publication Date: April 7th, 2011
Pages: 168
Language: English