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Book examines Mrs. Caudill’s help and work with husband

Book review



The Caudills of the Cumberland: Anne’s Story of Life with Harry

By Terry Cummins
Illustrated. 386 pp.
Butler Books. $24.95

Whatever happened to Anne Caudill, the widow of Harry Caudill from Whitesburg?

Harry Caudill’s 1963 landmark book, Night Comes to the Cumberlands, exposed the ongoing crises of political leadership failures in eastern Kentucky that were oppressing his people and plundering the mountains, but how does Anne figure into this? What was her life like living with the booming voice of this country lawyer who wouldn’t take no for an answer?

Always with Anne’s encouragement and able help, Mr. Caudill fought on many fronts for his people and the land. He achieved much for his mountain people. “His work was my work, and mine his,” she said. But still it’s hard to comprehend the scope of her achievements in her competing roles as a wife, mother, civic leader, legal secretary and manuscript typist.

Later, Anne was Harry’s constant companion for book tours and speeches, and travel to distant cities — all before the day of even a fax machine. She seems inexhaustible, but The Caudills of the Cumberlands tells a fuller story — a human one that reveals a deep love of family, a duty to serve, loss, grief, exhaustion, renewal, optimism, faith, a respect for human potential and an abiding love of nature.

Along this book’s journey readers will meet friends and allies of the Caudills, some famous and others unknown, but all treasured for their unique gifts and contributions to Kentucky and to humankind.

This book tells of Anne’s young life on the farm in Cynthiana, her career start in New Jersey, her presence at Times Square on VE Day in 1945, her job as county home demonstration agent, and her later work in Harry’s law office where the heartbreak of illiteracy drove her to fight alongside Harry for better education, for a library, and later to bring hospitals to the area. How does one woman do all this and what keeps her going?

Author Terry Cummins’s book with a foreword by Wendell Berry answers these questions and gives insight into the person Anne Frye Caudill was, and is, how she got to be that way and how she still thrives at age 89.


Both Anne Caudill and the author will be at the Kentucky Book Fair, Nov. 16, in Frankfort. Available now at www.butlerbooks.com

Linda Morton, a native of Louisville, is a writer living in southern Indiana.

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