Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: Through the Back Door

Melungeon Literacies and Twenty-first Century Technologies

By Katherine Vande Brake, Ph.D.
Published by Mercer Press, 2009

Review by MHS Board Memeber Janet Crain

The Melungeons were a dark skinned people of indeterminate origin who were documented as having lived chiefly in East Tennessee and the surrounding area as early as about 1800. Once little known, they exploded to prominence in the last quarter of the twentieth century. An outdoor drama; Walking Toward the Sunset and a book; The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People by Brent Kennedy were chiefly responsible for bringing these people to national attention and then the Internet spread their fame like wildfire. Some of this notoriety was good. But some only served to spread false rumors as baseless as the local ones they replaced.

Some very well researched scholarly books followed. All this attention attracted the interest of academia. They arrived en masse to study, poke, prod and analyze the subjects. This book, Through the Back Door: Melungeon Literacies and Twenty-first Century Technologies by Katerine Vande Brake is the result of just such an effort. This is not a book to read to learn about Melungeon history. It has been removed from Mercer's offerings of Melungeon books with good reason. In my opinion, it is not a good book period, because there are too many false statements in it. I just finished this book and I am still wondering why a professional educator would write a book like this.

To continue reading this review, with which I heartily concur: Click Here.

No comments:

Post a Comment