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Far Appalachia: Following the New River North Paperback – March 26, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385320132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385320139
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #902,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Noah Adams, the amiable host of NPR's All Things Considered, is no stranger to the world beyond the Beltway; a native of Kentucky, he's logged plenty of time in wild country, and the travels he recounts in his latest book take him through some of the most rugged in the eastern United States.

Adams travels along the New River, which rises in the mountains of North Carolina, flows generally north into Virginia and West Virginia, and eventually merges with the Ohio and Mississippi. Along the way--traveling by car, bicycle, and canoe--he explains the workings of rapids, his ancestral connection to Appalachia as well as its the history, and even the origins of the term hillbilly. As he wanders, Adams points out local oddities (such as a school bus that incongruously rests on a huge boulder in the middle of a stretch of the New River) and takes in bluegrass festivals, family picnics and the occasional family feud, and little towns and large vistas, by all appearances having a grand time along the way.

"This is just a book about a river. There was no quest involved, only a wish to understand more about this part of the country and my family's past." So writes Adams, with characteristic understatement. It may lack grand purpose, but his book is a pleasure for anyone who knows the country of which he writes, and anyone who enjoys a backroad adventure. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In his last book (Piano Lessons), Adams described the year he decided, at age 51, to learn to play the piano. The host of NPR's All Things Considered now takes readers on another year-long journey, this time through Appalachia by canoe, bicycle and white-water raft. A native of eastern Kentucky, Adams takes a personal interest in Appalachia: "a wish to learn more about this part of the country and my family's past." Gently and thoughtfully, he does just that, covering everything from the ecosystems of the New River whole universes under the eddying water to the ghosts of the pioneers and Native Americans who roamed the riverbanks. (Curiously, despite a passing reference to a Confederate flag, Adams never mentions the Civil War or even African-Americans.) Through the people he meets along his journey including bluegrass fiddlers and fishermen, storytellers all Adams also tells a story of present-day Appalachia, a complex view that challenges Deliverance stereotypes. But challenging the reader isn't Adams's purpose; instead, in easygoing and understated prose, he takes readers up the river with him into the darkness of coal mines, down Class VI rapids and into local pubs, inns and churches. He skims lightly over the depths and navigates the rapids with humor and a sharp eye for telling detail. Indeed, some of the best passages of the book are Adams's simple descriptions of the water: "The boat rocked, then steadied, and the current caught the bow and turned it downstream. Then a touch of the paddle to add some speed. This is the moment of grace." Whether white-water rafters or just along for the ride, readers will find Adams's story of a year following the New River full of this same quiet, and often unexpected, grace.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

It was such an entertaining and gentle read.
Allyson Jenkins
As you read this book, you can hear Adams talking: slowly and carefully, stopping here and there to dwell on a minor detail that focuses on the essence of a place.
Blaine Lilly
This is a good book about experiencing the New River from North Carolina up north to West Virginia.
Lockharts4jc

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer A. Pinard on May 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Noah Adams follows the New River from its headwaters in North Carolina to its end in West Virginia. This is not a textbook of the river's history, geography or geological formation. Instead, it is a conversational documentary. The pace of the river seems to set the pace of the book. Some chapters sit still for a minute and gaze in detail at a plant or a fish. Some chapters offer glimpses of the residents and communities along the New River. Some chapters fly by with the the excitment and adrenalin rush of the whitewater rapids. Some chapters ponder the past, some ponder the future. It's a trip worth taking through Noah Adam's eyes, thoughts, and words.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Lilly on April 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As you read this book, you can hear Adams talking: slowly and carefully, stopping here and there to dwell on a minor detail that focuses on the essence of a place. This is a good place to start if all you know about Appalachia and its people is what you learned from seeing "Deliverance", but it's also fine reading if you're from the hills or have spent some time on the New River. As a native son of the Mountain State, whose ancestors settled on the Bluestone River in 1790, I was amused to discover that some folks still regard West Virginia as a scary place populated by violent, barefoot hillbillies (only the guides on the river are barefoot here).
One small quibble: Adams doesn't devote any time at all to the geological history of the river itself. Given that it's generally regarded as the oldest river in North America, I thought this was surprising. My only complaint is that, just like a rafting trip down the New in Spring, it's over way too soon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Noah Adams is a great story-teller - this much we know from his sure, relaxed style on NPR. That he has a knack for detail and a love of the outdoors is a welcome surprise. The result is a thoroughly engaging book about a part of the country that many don't know.
The book borrows its pace from the river itself. In several passages, there appears to be no point: just a casual observation of a minor detail, told in many pages. Whether it's the point where he considers leaping a fence because the trail may or may not be closed, or it's the rich detail of the rapids ahead on the river, you feel as if you're on the journey with Adams every step of the way.
The strength of the book is that Adams tells it on his own terms: this book is an exploration of a part of *his* history. His people are from here, and he wants to learn more about the region that produced his ancestors. At one point he even traces his roots beyond Appalachia, back to England where his ancestors originated. These diversions, much like the tributaries of the New River, simply fill out the story and make your experience all the more complete.
A final note - I listened to this book, rather than read it. Since Noah Adams does the narration, it adds just a bit more to the overall experience. Because you already know his voice, you feel as if you're listening to an old friend tell you stories by the campfire. One can't help but hear the love of the river, and the outdoors in general, as Adams recounts his story. It's a wonderful experience.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jan Anderson on May 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This rather thin book is chock full of things I never knew and was interested to learn! I grew up in Va. but had no previous knowlwdge of Mary Ingles--a fascinating true story. The book is far ranging ,from pioneer stories to a thrilling account of white water rafting (I'm wondering if a 56 year old couch potato dares try it!)Travel writing at it's best!
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John Wood on May 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you caught Noah Adams talking about his book recently on NPR, you might think, as I did, that it talks about the early settlers who followed the New River from North Carolina into Virginia and what is now West Virginia (and then onward to Kentucky and Ohio and beyond, as his ancestors did, and mine; we grew up about 10 miles from each other). About their subsistence farming and forestry and mining. It does not. Much of it is about touristy white water rafting and canoeing, which has nothing to do with the people of that region. In the final chapter, in a couple of sentences, he says he "wondered" about those early settlers. So did I. That's why I bought the book. I was disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Sable on September 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Noah Adams has provided the reader with a detailed description of the demographics, landscape, environment as well as folklore of the New River as it winds its way North from North Carolina to West Virginia. Having paddled the river from Pembroke to Glenn Lynn Va and living in this region since 1977 I was amazed at his description of the simplest details such as how to run the Narrows Falls to his stories about the surrounding communities. If you are fond of the New River Valley you will treasure this remarkable desciption of the people and places he visits while on his journey down the New River.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on March 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Noah Adams goes on a journey down the New River, stopping to chat with the natives. I love this part of the country and I like Noah Adams, so I was happy to accompany him as a reader. But there is not a lot more content than you would find in several All-Things-Considered segments stitched together...it won't take you much more time to read it than it would to listen to it. The commentary is pleasant but if you want a deep or detailed introduction to the New River Valley of Appalachia you will have to go elsewhere.
So set aside a nice Sunday afternoon and have a go at it.
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