A mining crew in Ohio. Air traffic control staffers in New York. A migrant labor camp in Maine. Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders.
The stories of these workers weave together in Jeanne Laskas’ book “Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work.”
The book is this year’s UofL Book-in-Common. The author will share stories and thoughts from her work during a free lecture at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 in the multipurpose room, Swain Student Activities Center.
The Book-in-Common program encourages faculty, staff and students to read a common text prior to the start of fall semester, so that the community can have a shared experience. The book and its themes are discussed in classes and other events throughout the school year. The program is organized by the Office of First Year Initiatives.
A number of factors are considered when selecting a book, said Loni Yost, director of First Year Initiatives, including relatability, readability and the opportunities to connect.
“With a variety of programs and events lined up, it is clear that the themes found in the BinC are very applicable to current events and discussions taking place nationally as well as on our campus and in our community,” Yost said.
“Hidden America” tells stories about workers around the country whose work makes life as we know it possible, but often aren’t thought about. Laskas wrote about the men of Hopedale Mining Company in Cadiz, Ohio, with whom she spent several weeks, both below and above ground. She explores several other “hidden worlds” including an Alaskan oil rig, a migrant labor camp in Maine, the air traffic control center at LaGuardia Airport in New York, a beef ranch in Texas, a landfill in California, a long-haul trucker in Iowa, a gun shop in Arizona, and the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders.
In addition to her lecture, Laskas will lead a brainstorm session and writing workshop from 4-5:15 p.m. in Floyd Theater about the question for the Book-in-Common Composition Competition prompt “Who do you think is part of our ‘hidden’ America?”
A 7 p.m. book signing in the Student Activities Center Multipurpose Room will follow the workshop.