Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner is an Associate Professor of English at Chapman University and the Politics Editor at The Los Angeles Review of Books

Recent Articles

Coda: When Appalachia Was Blue

How the Democrats won and lost it.

AP Photo/Harvey Georges
wwc_homepage_logo-3.jpg John F. Kennedy loved his Brooks Brothers suits and was particular about them. They had to be single-breasted, vented, made of dark blue worsted wool and typically augmented with shiny black wingtips. He wore these suits as comfortably as a lynx wears its fur. And he was wearing one on April 26, 1960, the day he sat down on a filthy set of mine car tracks in Mullens, West Virginia, to talk and joke with a crew of coal miners during a shift change at the Pocahontas Fuel Company He became “almost as grimy as the miners,” wrote the UPI reporter on the scene, and nearly electrocuted himself on a low-hanging electrical wire. “When he left the mine,” noted the wire service reporter, “his face and hands were as black as if he had been digging coal.” Later that day, Kennedy visited the river town of Welch, where he climbed on top of a nearby car and delivered an impromptu stump speech. “How can a candidate do anything for West...