321 CHRONICLESnBut all the while most of thenlocal folk had also clung tontraditional securities—thencountry home, the little farm,nthe garden and animals — evennas they ventured out to minenand mill. Keeping and usingnthe land and domesticatednbeasts were prudent in annuncertain world, as well as verynold habits. Then during thenearly 1960’s something verynquiet and profound happened.nIt became apparent . . . thatnmining families and evennfarmers had abandoned theirngardens, hen houses andnpigpens. Chain grocery storesnhad arrived and wonnacceptance. Cash flowed,nespecially from the mines; hardntimes seemed remote. Sonvillage and country folk at lastngave up their old culture ofnliving at home in favor of livingnout of bags. The phenomenonnof the pickup truck parkednoutside the Piggly Wigglynsupermarket, now so commonnit provokes litfle comment, hadnmaterialized.nBut in spite of an abundance of statistics,ninformation, and distinctions,nwhat we don’t find much of in RuralnWorlds Lost is a sense of—loss. Indeed,nProfessor Kirby’s book puts menin mind of 1930’s dustbowl photos andnof movies like J Was a Fugitive From anGeorgia Chain Gang. The picture hendraws of extended misery is an academicnsymphony of ideological cliches,nhackneyed images that lead us to wonder:nMy goodness, how did those peoplensurvive!nKirby’s portrait of a South he care­nnnfully varies winds up as an informednand thoughtful rehash of Popular Frontnideology. After you get through withnall those vicious landowners, hookwormnand pellagra-ridden white trash,nshiftless rednecks, long-suiferingnblacks, battered wives, laboring children,nand abused animals, you have tonwonder what all the fuss is about.nClearly, Southerners desperately andnsimply needed the TV, governmentnintervention, the Southern TenantnFarmer’s Union (heavily emphasized),nthe United Cannery, Agricultural,nPacking, and Allied Workers ofnAmerica — there was no South at all,nexcept as a slum project for idealisticnreformers like Alger Hiss and CareynMcWilliams. It’s at this point that wenbegin to see Kirby’s best pages, as thenones on mule flatulence.nSo what, after all, was lost? Thenman on the street could tell you, butnKirby can’t.nOne is at a loss to discover,nthen, a southern folk whonshared some broad sense ofnhistory, class consciousness,ncultural cohesion, or mission.nTo be sure some segments ofnthe region’s rural populationndid—most notably organizedncoal miners and members ofnradical tenant farmernorganizations. Most southernersnmight best be described,nhowever, as less a folk than anfolkmash: this is an excellentnYiddish term which means (innIrving Howe’s explanation) thatnpeople “responded more to thenurgencies of their experiencenthan to any fixed idea”; therenwas “no ‘principled’ reason”nbehind their actions.nDoes this mean that the oblique gainnof a Yiddishism easily makes up for thenloss of nothing?nIn such a context, Kirby’s predictablyngrudging recognition of WilliamnAlexander Percy leads to the trashingnof a class: “Percy’s class made a mockerynof the term gentleman, which theynloved so well, and discredited themselvesnbefore the class and the racenthey pretended to protect. Posing asnpremodern aristocrats, they lost credibilitynlong before their fragmentednplantations were depopulated and enclosed.”nObviously anyone Southernnand white who has an idea not on then