"The Extremes of Virginia provides a necessary window into Virginia's economic and societal soul. Wallmeyer's depiction of the most important regions of the Commonwealth, from the Eastern Shore through Southside to the coalfields of Southwest Virginia demonstrate that the areas and the people that were once the bedrock foundation for the Virginia economy, are now suffering in many similar ways. Where not so long ago all of Virginia benefited from our rich oyster beds in the bay, tobacco, textile, manufacturing and coal, a changing economy and regionalism at the state level has seemingly left these industries, and the people who produced them, behind. August's blunt assessments and sharp insight are spot-on, which makes this book a must read for any Virginian living outside of the "extremes" of their state who craves a deeper understanding and knowledge of the future needs of these wonderful communities-- so that all Virginians can move forward together, as one Virginia."
Bill Stanley, Senator, 20th Senate District
August Wallmeyer was my speechwriter when I served as Attorney General of Virginia in the late ‘70s. As we traveled throughout the Commonwealth we marveled at the abundance of opportunities that then existed, at the hardy spirit of Virginians and at our growing economy. As years have passed, Virginia’s economy has brought change and abundance to some, while leaving out other areas such as the Extremes. Wallmeyer has gone back to those areas and demonstrated the dearth of opportunities in employment, education, health care and other areas, along with the added scourge of opioid abuse. His statistics showing the inequalities and disparities in the Extremes are staggering. This is a must read, especially for members of the General Assembly who, despite our single member districts, understand that the governing process is for the Commonwealth at large, and that more measured approaches are needed to restore the Commonwealth as a whole.
Anthony F. Troy, Attorney General of Virginia—1977-1978
I grew up in Southside Virginia and represented the region in the House of Delegates for 20 years. The Extremes of Virginia is a brutally accurate diagnosis of the problems facing Southside and the other forgotten regions of Virginia; from unyielding unemployment to heightened drug abuse to inadequate medical care. Worse still is the revelation that the people affected are profoundly pessimistic about their future and their chances for a better life for their children.Yet Augie offers specific solutions on how to fix the problems. The most relevant – a call to the General Assembly to refocus its efforts with an “infusion of more expert, outside and unbiased help.” Indeed! A must read for anyone seeking to understand Virginia beyond the urban crescent.”
Ward Armstrong, Member, Virginia House of Delegates 1992-2012, Minority Leader 2007-2012
August Wallmeyer has written a riveting account of the economic heart of Virginia, where dedication and hard labor in the coalfields and manufacturing belt, once the engine of the state economy for generations, has been lost. Replete with current statistics and social graphs, Mr. Wallmeyer makes a contemplative argument for change and reinvigoration in the Extremes of Virginia. The truth shines most brightly in the interviews the accomplished journalist conducted with residents, clergy, and local leaders in business, medicine and education. Their stories are deftly woven through the book to great effect. It is clear that when ranking Virginia's abundant natural resources, her greatest are her citizens, whose creativity, keen intellects and love of home are her best hope for a glorious future.
Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author and writer/director of Big Stone Gap
Wallmeyer's book is a "guided tour" through three large regions of Virginia that are, in the author"s words "rural, poor and largely unknown." It is an account that is the reverse of the traditional story of regional rags to riches--and it has happened in just a few generations. It is also an object lesson for those living in now affluent areas of what can happen in a time of globalization, rapid communications and advancing technological change when tactical decisions are unaccompanied by strategic thinking by decision makers and citizens alike. The book should be required reading for legislators and governors, in particular.
The portrait that Wallmeyer paints in THE EXTREMES is one of a bleak landscape, dotted with revealing statistics, yet one enriched with conversations and observations that reflect the soul and hardy spirit for which the three regions have long been known. There are omitted some "bright spots" of progress in the three regions that space and time, understandably, would not permit including in this wonderful little book, just as there are some whose described progress can be questioned.
Wallmeyer, helpfully, also offers,several thoughtful prescriptions for addressing the unknown if not "orphaned" regions of the Commonwealth. They merit serious discussion. He leaves for future examination the question of whether the Virginia Tobacco Commission, now in its second decade, has complied with its legislative mandate to use wisely--and strategically--it's exclusive set-aside amount of two billion dollars to transform the Southside and Southwest regions.
All in all, The EXTREMES, is a useful contribution to our understanding that the Commonwealth is not common when nearly "two thirds" of its geography is "rural, poor and unknown."
Gerald L. Baliles, Governor of Virginia (1986-90)