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The Slain Wood

Hardcover
, 376 pages

7 b&w photos, 4 maps, 9 graphs

ISBN:
9781421418780
August 2015
$55.00

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The Slain Wood

Papermaking and Its Environmental Consequences in the American South

When the paper industry moved into the South in the 1930s, it confronted a region in the midst of an economic and environmental crisis. Entrenched poverty, stunted labor markets, vast stretches of cutover lands, and severe soil erosion prevailed across the southern states. By the middle of the twentieth century, however, pine trees had become the region’s number one cash crop, and the South dominated national and international production of pulp and paper based on the intensive cultivation of timber.

In The Slain Wood, William Boyd chronicles the dramatic growth of the pulp and paper industry in the American South during the twentieth century and the social and environmental changes that accompanied it. Drawing on extensive interviews and historical research, he tells the fascinating story of one of the region’s most important but understudied industries.

The Slain Wood reveals how a thoroughly industrialized forest was created out of a degraded landscape, uncovers the ways in which firms tapped into informal labor markets and existing inequalities of race and class to fashion a system for delivering wood to the mills, investigates the challenges of managing large papermaking complexes, and details the ways in which mill managers and unions discriminated against black workers. It also shows how the industry’s massive pollution loads significantly disrupted local environments and communities, leading to a long struggle to regulate and control that pollution.

William Boyd is an associate professor of law at the University of Colorado–Boulder.

"A terrific, strikingly original piece of scholarship, The Slain Wood offers readers a sophisticated and empirically rich account of the creation and evolution of the Southern pulp and paper industry. William Boyd's fine prose deftly blends agricultural, environmental, and industrial history with engrossing comparisons and connections."

"This excellent book contributes most robustly to economic and environmental history, but it will be read profitably by scholars interested in political change, regulatory regimes, and race and labor...[an] insightful analysis of the paper industry's important role in the twentieth-century South. The trees slain for this book sacrificed their well-engineered lives for a good cause."

"Boyd provides a comprehensive and scholarly analysis of a vital industry in an era of substantive regional change."

"... Tremendous value as a legal history situated within broader political, historical, economic, and social context."

"Slain Wood is an important contribution to promoting understanding of the transformations borne by the Southern regional landscape in the twentieth century. The work is carefully researched and critically related, with a distinctive emphasis on the legal framework guiding transformation of Southern papermaking."

"William Boyd bring such analysis to the American South in a significant contribution to both southern and environmental history... this book is a welcome cross-disciplinary bridge between economic, legal, and environmental history that successfully explains the fundamental historical importance of this understudied industry"

"This is a magisterial study of a relatively poorly understood world. To tell it well, Boyd takes seriously the many historiographical layers of the story, using business, technological, labor, legal, and environmental history approaches. The synthesis of these overlapping tales is a huge achievement and his beautiful writing make the book a powerful read. It could well stand as a model for future industrial-environmental historians."

"Overall, Boyd illustrates the double-edged sword that is economic development; its jobs and prosperity often inflict a devastating impact on the non-human and human environments. Boyd makes plain that "the smell of prosperity" is an odor whose costs should be weighed more carefully than Governor Wallace’s glib analysis suggests."

"... book beautifully written, richly textured, and tightly argued..."

"The Slain Wood is a remarkable contribution to southern economic and environmental history"

"... well-reserched history of industry and region."

"Das interessant geschriebene Buch kann in vielen Aspekten als exemplarische Betrachtung der historischen Entwicklung einiger Industriezweige aufgefasst werden, besonders auch der Zellstoff- und Papier - industrie in Europa."

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