Written by Silas House, Jason Howard
Like an old-fashioned hymn sung in rounds, Something's Rising gives a stirring voice to the lives, culture, and determination of the people fighting the destructive practice of mountaintop removal in the coalfields of central Appalachia. Each person's story, unique and unfiltered, articulates the hardship of living in these majestic mountains amid the daily desecration of the land by the coal industry because of America's insistence on cheap energy. Developed as an alternative to strip mining, mountaintop removal mining consists of blasting away the tops of mountains, dumping waste into the valleys, and retrieving the exposed coal. This process buries streams, pollutes wells and waterways, and alters fragile ecologies in the region. The people who live, work, and raise families in central Appalachia face not only the physical destruction of their land but also the loss of their culture and health in a society dominated by the consequences of mountaintop removal. Included here are oral histories from Jean Ritchie, "the mother of folk," who doesn't let her eighty-six years slow down her fighting spirit; Judy Bonds, a tough-talking coal-miner's daughter; Kathy Mattea, the beloved country singer who believes cooperation is the key to winning the battle; Jack Spadaro, the heroic whistle-blower who has risked everything to share his insider knowledge of federal mining agencies; Larry Bush, who doesn't back down even when speeding coal trucks are used to intimidate him; Denise Giardina, a celebrated writer who ran for governor to bring attention to the issue; and many more. The book features both well-known activists and people rarely in the media. Each oral history is prefaced with a biographical essay that vividly establishes the interview settings and the subjects' connections to their region. Written and edited by native sons of the mountains, this compelling book captures a fever-pitch moment in the movement against mountaintop removal. Silas House and Jason Howard are experts on the history of resistance in Appalachia, the legacy of exploitation of the region's natural resources, and area's unique culture and landscape. This lyrical and informative text provides a critical perspective on a powerful industry. The cumulative effect of these stories is stunning and powerful. Something's Rising will long stand as a testament to the social and ecological consequences of energy at any cost and will be especially welcomed by readers of Appalachian studies, environmental science, and by all who value the mountain's majesty -- our national heritage.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (March 16, 2009)
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Novelist House (Clay's Quilt) and Kentucky journalist Howard, both "children of Appalachia," decided to pick up where the national media have left off in their environmental obsession, illuminating the long-growing mining crisis in Central Appalachia. Twelve Appalachians-among them a college student, former union organizers, community activists and the octogenarian "mother of folk," Jean Ritchey-provide first-hand accounts of a disappearing way of life, a vital ecology in rapid decline, an industry that refuses to take responsibility for the devastation it causes (blowing the tops off mountains is only the latest, most destructive technique), and a nation too hooked on cheap energy to help. If nothing else, these oral histories will give readers a sense of what's at stake on a personal level. Student Nathan Hall calls mining the best job he ever had: "I met the most interesting characters of my life... the most hilarious, most good hearted." Says Judy Bond, lifelong resident of the leading coal-producing county in W.V., "The more coal we mine, the poorer we get." This important collection illuminates the ongoing betrayal of the American mining town.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Of all the destructive practices our energy-hungry society has invented, mountaintop-removal coal mining is the worst. After “an entire mountain is blown up for a relatively thin seam of coal,” topsoil, rocks, and trees are shoved into valleys, burying streams, killing plants and animals, and endangering people. Appalachians have tolerated this because they have always looked to King Coal for employment, but mountaintop removal actually eliminates jobs, and now the “voices of the people” of coal country are rising in protest. House and Howard vividly profile 12 remarkable Appalachians, many with generations of coal miners in their family tree, who are bravely speaking out in defense of Appalachia’s threatened landscape, wildlife, and human communities. In memory-laced, sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing oral histories, each activist shares tales of environmental awakenings and risky activism, among them folksinger Jean Ritchie; writer Denise Giardina; Carl Shoupe, a former deep miner; and whistle-blower Jack Spadaro. All 12 eco-heroes are mesmerizing, informative, and motivating as they articulate their moral and spiritual convictions, love for the land, and pride in Appalachian culture, while calling for responsible mining and respect and protection for all of life. --Donna Seaman
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