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The Slain Wood

Papermaking and Its Environmental Consequences in the American South

William Boyd

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The paper industry rejuvenated the American South—but took a heavy toll on its land and people.

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…

The paper industry rejuvenated the American South—but took a heavy toll on its land and people.

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.

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The Slain Wood

William Boyd

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Reviews

Reviews

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

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
376
ISBN
9781421418780
Illustration Description
7 b&w photos, 4 maps, 9 graphs
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Industrializing the Southern Forest
2. Logging the Mills
3. Making Paper
4. Appropriating the Environment
5. New South, New Nature
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio