Rowan's Progress

James McConkey, Author Pantheon Books $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-40882-6
For 40 years Dr. Claire Louise Caudill has medically tended the fiercely proud, mostly poor Appalachian folk of eastern Kentucky's Rowan County. This independent-minded woman who radiates healinig optimism is a descendant of Craig Tolliver, murderous town marshall in the Rowan County War, a spectacular vendetta of the 1880s in which families decimated one another. McConkey ( Court of Memory ), who teaches literature at Cornell, contrasts the drunken lawlessness of the county's past with the humanitarian progress spearheaded by Caudill, a determined physician who has delivered thousands of babies and who helped bring a medical center and hospital to the county. More than half of this gently heroic story is wonderfully unaffected, as the author recounts his reunion with Caudill after a 30-year absence. Then the writing becomes prosaic and the tale of the founding of the medical center is dull. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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