Cory W. Smith
18 November 2012
Book Review: The Most They Ever Had
The Most They Ever Had is a story of suffering, hard work, and sacrifice. It is a collaboration of interviews conducted on the textile workers of the Profile cotton mill in Jacksonville, Alabama. The author of the book, Rick Bragg, compiles the stories of these people because he is one of them. He was raised in Jacksonville, Alabama. His older brother, Sam, worked at the mill. Bragg wrote this story of his people because it was a story that needed to be heard. The Most They Ever Had tells the simple lives of the men that just wanted to make a living to support a family and make it through this life to get to the next. The title is so fitting because they lived such simple lives that the mill coming to town meant survival. It meant having a somewhat stable job and the ability to buy a house and put food on the table. It was, in fact, the most they ever had.
The job came with a price, however. The workers paid for their means of survival with their health. They worked unventilated rooms saturated with lint. The constant inhalation of these minute particles eventually caused damage to the workers lungs causing a disease called “brown lung.” Because the job was so sought after, the workers could lose their job for the smallest mishaps, even missing one day of work due to illness. The workers could be sick as dogs, but they would still clock in a put in their daily hours. Their daily struggles can teach the readers a lesson--to never take things in life for granted. These workers labor tirelessly day in and day out just to put a roof over their family’s head and food on the table. They worked in terrible conditions, but they rarely complained because they appreciated what they had. That, I believe, is a main purpose behind this book. Not only to tell the readers the stories of these true American heroes, but also to teach them this valuable lesson.
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