Dr. Perkins is Assistant Professor and Chair of the History Department at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. He is native to the Ozarks region, growing up on a cattle farm, and therefore understands this history personally.
"Hillbilly Hellraisers is a stunningly original work that manages to clarify the actions of a misunderstood people at the same time that it reasserts complexity into their allegedly simple lives. Blake Perkins reminds us that regional stories have national, even universal, significance, but to truly appreciate that significance we have to first approach the stories of Ozarkers and other regional groups on their own terms and on their own turf. A must-read for anyone studying the Upland South and for those seeking a fuller understanding of the changing nature of antigovernment protest."--Brooks Blevins, author of Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South
J. Blake Perkins searches for the roots of rural defiance in the Ozarks--and discovers how it changed over time. Eschewing generalities, Perkins focuses on the experiences and attitudes of rural people themselves as they interacted with government in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He uncovers the reasons local disputes and uneven access to government power fostered markedly different reactions by hill people as time went by. Resistance in the earlier period sprang from upland small farmers' conflicts with capitalist elites who held the local levers of federal power. But as industry and agribusiness displaced family farms after World War II, a conservative cohort of town business elites, local political officials, and Midwestern immigrants arose from the region's new low-wage, union-averse economy. As Perkins argues, this modern anti-government conservatism bore little resemblance to the populist backcountry populism of an earlier age but had much in common with the movement elsewhere.