American Hollow

Introduction by Rory Kennedy
Preface by Robert Coles
Photographs by Steve Lehman
Interviews by Mark Bailey

A poignant family epic and an extraordinary portrait of a near-extinct way of life, American Hollow profiles the Bowling family and its seven generations in Appalachia. Created as a companion volume to the Emmy Award-nominated 90-minute HBO documentary directed and produced by Rory Kennedy, American Hollow, a fascinating oral and visual history of the Bowling clan of Kentucky, features striking black-and-white photography by Steve Lehman.

"But the best documentary-the best Sundance film, period-was Rory Kennedy's American Hollow....Kennedy...refuses to shy away from stereotypes about her subjects, and instead celebrates their humanity."-LA Weekly American Studies

American Hollow is that rare experience: a sympathetic and strength-giving portrait of love and kinship in the face of hard times. Iree Bowling, the clan's seventy-year-old matriarch, is the narrator of the family's story, as they supplement their government checks by collecting blood root and ginseng and hang steadfastly to their land. Photos from Bowling family albums, historical Life and National Geographic images from the '60s and pictures of the Bowlings of today, lend depth and texture to the story of an American family. The introduction is by Rory Kennedy (daughter of Robert F. Kennedy) who, in the process of making the companion film, lived in the hollow with the Bowlings over the course of a year. Robert Coles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, contributes a moving history of the region, while the voices of the Bowling clan are captured in the interviews by Mark Bailey, writer and editor.

About the Authors:

Rory Kennedy is an award-winning independent documentary filmmaker. She is the Founder and President of Moxie Firecracker Films Inc., a documentary production company based in New York City.

Dr. Robert Coles is a renowned child psychiatrist, Pulitzer-prize-winning author, and James Agee Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University. He is the co-author of School (Bulfinch, 1998).

Photographer Steve Lehman is a renowned and award-winning photojournalist.

Mark Bailey is a New York-based editor and writer.


8 x 11 vertical 128 pages
85 duotone photographs
ISBN 0-8212-2631-2 Hardcover:
$35 $47 in Canada
November 1999
Published by Bulfinch Press/ Little,
Brown and Company