C R A D L E   O F   C O P P E R H E A D S
Edited by Paul Douglass.
McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York City, New York 1988. 275 pp.
  Craddle of Copperheads  
  Cradle of Copperheads is a fictionalized account of Jesse Stuart’s tenure as the school-district superintendent in Greenup County, Kentucky, schools. It depicts a young, idealistic college-educated teacher, Shan Stringer, battling small town corruption, prejudice and ignorance during the hard years of the Great Depression. Stringer’s arch nemesis is Ace Ruggles, a vile, conniving politician, and the local political power structure that he rules is a snake pit of corruption. It is colorful story, filled with tragedy, satire, humor, and above all Stuart’s compassion for the people he writes about.

This was essentially Stuart’s first real attempt at a novel. Beyond the Dark Hills, his first published novel, was  simply a lengthy term paper, which was not written with publication in mind. In the Thread that Runs So True he claimed that the manuscript of the book was burned, but after forty years he returned to it and completely reworked the manuscript, improving the story in a number of ways. The revised manuscript was not published during his lifetime, but was issued posthumously, with Paul Douglass providing final editing, under the auspicious of the Jesse Stuart Foundation, of Ashland, Kentucky. There is a certain irony that Stuartís first written novel was the last one published, which he did live to see.


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