About the Book


"Laskas goes to work nationwide to find the hidden soul of America, the people we depend on most but know the least. Along the way, she reminds us that it's not what makes our lives function smoothly, but who, how, and at what cost. With beauty, wit, curiosity, and grace, Laskas tells the story of the United States from deep inside the machinery that makes it work. Hidden America is essential reading for anyone who's ever turned on a light, started a car, thrown away trash, flown on a plane, or eaten a vegetable."
- Rebecca Skloot, Author


About Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make This Country Work
Hidden America
by Jeanne Marie Laskas invites readers to think deeply about the people and systems we rely on every day but rarely consider. Though not researched in Kentucky, chapters on coal mining (Underworld) and migrant workers (Hecho en América) speak to current events in our region. Laskas also looks at gun stores, air traffic control, and cattle ranching to name a few of the other occupations. The themes in the book are relatable across the disciplines and are extremely relevant to current events in the United States and across the globe.

What Questions Does Hidden America Raise?

We are excited about the many different avenues that such a unique book allows us to explore. Here are a few:

  • Readers may recognize aspects of themselves or family members in Laskas' subjects, and we'll explore the similarities and differences we see not just within the book but also in comparison to the people in our own lives and communities. We’ll also explore our individual contributions to a variety of complex systems and our connections to the people who are also part of those systems.
  • Hidden America leads us to consider what might be the "hidden" career opportunities in our academic disciplines and areas of interest.
  • We will examine other “hidden” or marginalized populations in our own community: immigrants and refugees, the victims of human trafficking, the people behind the scenes at UofL who keep things running, etc.
  • The themes in each chapter provide a starting point for us to discuss important current events, such as debates about oil, coal and other natural resources, gun control, immigration, feminism and gender stereotypes, and animal cloning.