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Something's Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal Hardcover – March 16, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

*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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky; First Edition edition (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813125464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813125466
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The voices rising in this fine and essential collection gathered by novelist Silas House and journalist Jason Howard each sings his or her own song of the people and land protesting the violence being done to it by Energy companies and their practice of mountaintop removal...strip mining with a vengeance.
I would almost call this a "chorus" of voices, except it is clear that each voice is candid and has its own character and song. Country singer Kathy Mattea, for example, comes across with characteristic wit and passion in a call for "A Light in the Dark." Her "Coal" CD or Jean Ritchie's "Black Waters" or "Now Is the Cool of the Day" songs in which she cries out in a beautiful plaintive voice might be played while reading this book of Appalachians. Environmental engineer Jack Spadaro makes the case clear: "We've destroyed a million and a half acres in the past thirty years with mountaintop removal. It's gong on at an accelerated rate now. It's not just destroying the land; it's destroying a whole people. It's destroying a culture. It's destroying towns. It's destroying the most diverse forest outside the tropics in the world. This is the Mother Forest for North America." Spadaro laments the way the United Mine Workers of America and the Mine Safety and Health Administration have become complicit in this devastation of a culture and a land. He was fired by the Bush administration for making such a stand. As Silas House and Jason Howard make clear in the introduction, Appalachians must stand up on their own against this practice which ultimately robs jobs and land.
Each speaker is given a well written profile introduction, and each provides an interview statement of their life and involvement.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, a book about grass roots struggle against big coal and the devastation of the Appalachian mountains, is an important book. It is a book of beautifully written stories, full of imagery. I can see eighty-six-year-old Jean Ritchie's eyes in the rich descriptions and almost hear her sing. These descriptions make me want to sit at her feet, hear her voice and her wisdom. All the people in the book are portrayed as real people I'd like to meet, their stories so compelling, their voices sincere. But most of all, though, this book makes me heartsick for a way of life that has been, not lost, but stolen or sold, it inspires me to join this fight against the ravages of coal.
Coal has done little for the people of Appalachia but make us poor, use our land and our people badly, and destroy the mountains with which we identify. Something's Rising is a cry for justice, for a way of life, a warning for the people of Appalachia and America to wake up before it is too late, before our mountains are gone,our streams polluted beyond reclamation. It should be required reading, not in every history, geography and science class in high school and college, but for every legislator in this country,every man or woman who was elected on claims he or she represents "the people."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great work of oral history and environmental literature not from academics or outside observers but rather from the people on the receiving end of a raw deal. Coal is big money for capital but a curse for labor. Appalachia contains some of the poorest zip codes in the United States, and yet billions of dollars in natural resources have been harvested from these very counties. This short book attempts to explain some of the reasons why this is so. And this is nothing new. Ballad singer Addie Graham saw it first hand decades ago:

"You don't know the wealth that went out of that country. It'd kill you to know of it. When the big companies came in they bought all the timber in that country, all through it . . . . All that walnut timber, millions of dollars worth, went out of there. The wealth that was in that country, they never got nothing much for it; it went too cheap"

What happened with timber and other natural resources happened with coal, and it continues to this day. Wealth goes out and the people stay poor and despised, the butt of jokes in the 'liberal' media.

The thirteen activists and artists portrayed here and the the editors of this book attempt to redress this imbalance.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Somethings' Rising is one of the best books I have read about the genocide going on in Appalachia. This area has been used, abused and ignored by America and with the help of this book and others out there like it, America can face the awful truth and help right the wrong done to Appalachians.
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Format: Hardcover
Being a huge fan of House's work, I bought this book at the lecture series "Evening With the Mountainkeepers." Not only was I able to meet Silas House and co-author Jason Howard, but they autographed my book. I was also privileged to hear them read an excerpt from this important books.

Mountaintop coal removal is a controversial topic, especially in Appalachia. On one hand, the practice supplies much needed jobs for the residents of mining towns; on the other, this practice destroys natural wildlife habitats, leaving deep scars upon the land.

This book contains the personal stories of 13 residents of the Appalachian region and gives you a representation of their views and opinions. I think this is an important book, not only for the understanding of mountaintop removal, but also for learning about the cultures of Appalachia.
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