John O’Brien was raised in Philadelphia by an Appalachian father who fled the mountains to escape crippling poverty and family tragedy. Years later, with a wife and two kids of his own, the son moved back into those mountains in an attempt to understand both himself and the father from whom he’d become estranged.
At once a poignant memoir and a tribute to America's most misunderstood region, At Home in the Heart of Appalachia describes a lush land of voluptuous summers, woodsmoke winters, and breathtaking autumns and springs. John O'Brien sees through the myths about Appalachia to its people and the mountain culture that has sustained them. And he takes to task naïve missionaries and rapacious industrialists who are the real source of much of the region's woe as well as its lingering hillbilly stereotypes. Finally, and profoundly, he comes to terms with the atavistic demons that haunt the relations between Appalachian fathers and sons.