Lost Mountain - A Year In the Vanishing Wilderness, Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia by Erik Reece, forward by Wendell Berry has been beautifully reviewed by Bookwormers before me. Lake Loop's review inspired me to order the book from the library. And she inspired Donna at Chocolate Crayons who wrote her review here. Green Bean at Green Bean Dreams wrote her review here.
Lost Mountain should be on bestseller lists across the country. I loved it; but it's not sexy. At all. Animal Vegetable Miracle had turkey sex, Omnivore's Dilemma must have had corn sex. I can't remember. Lost Mountain has heart.
Erik Reece cares about the mountain and the people that are being devastated by mountain top removal. He rides in their trucks and sits at their dinner tables between his monthly hikes up the mountain to journal it's demise. He listens to their stories, gives them a voice. He tells their history and it's impossible to not embrace them. They are good people. Even when they are also working at the mines.
There are no easy answers anywhere. The laws are too lax to help and they're ignored anyway. If there's too much noise the regulating agencies broaden the restrictions. Legal becomes criminal. It's eye opening stuff.
My favorite parts were when the communities came together to protect or reclaim the land. An 80 year old coffin maker took up his 22 rifle to protect his stepson's land (his stepson was a Marine serving in Iraq at the time). He was jailed and his neighbors surrounded the property for him; 22's in hand until he was released.
They came together again to pray on the top of a removed mountain top. They held hands, planted seeds of wildflowers. A couple journalists attended although strip mining is one of the most under reported environmental concerns of our time.
And young and old alike came together for a piece of performance art to reenact a visit forty years prior by Robert Kennedy four months before he was shot. The problems that existed then continue today.
I wish I could say the book ended happily. The author tried but his conclusion chapter was unnecessary. Coal mining is a problem however you spin it. And so is corruption, greed and our addiction to cheap energy. We're grown ups. We can take it.
Since reading Lost Mountain I turn out the lights more, I'm investigating carbon offsets through our energy provider. And I talk about coal mining and the good book I read about it. I believe the more people know what's going on the better chance we may have to finding solutions.
Check it out.
Rated: 5 out of 5
Recommended for everyone who has ever turned on a light.