Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lost Mountain: A 2nd Opinion

Several weeks ago, berrybird wrote a review of "Lost Mountain" that was so good, I don't have much to add. Only that, in answer to my comment expressing reluctance to read the book because it's so much easier not knowing, berrybird replied that, if it helped, the book was beautifully written. I went ahead and read it and I'm really glad I did. So here's my second opinion...

"Lost Mountain" by Erik Reece is the story of, well, a mountain in Kentucky that has been lost. It would be one thing if the mountain went hiking one day and didn’t return when predicted, but no, Humpty Dumpty was pushed.

Seriously, "Lost Mountain" is the story of how Appalachian mountains are being summarily removed by blasting and bulldozer in the name of cheap coal. Author Erik Reece spent a year watching one mountain disappear. Each month he went back, chronicled the newest developments and photographed them. In between visits, he went out into the countryside and learned the stories of people who live there and the devastating effects that "mountaintop removal" has had on their lives and their communities. In short, the coal companies come to town, remove the mountain to extract the coal, fill the nearest valley and stream with toxic remains, and then leave town. Rules are ignored, regulations aren’t enforced, there’s bullying worthy of the mob and if someone actually tries to make the company pay, they just declare bankruptcy and move on to another mountain under another name. It’s corporate greed at its ugliest, and it’s tragic. The worst part is that it’s not even necessary to remove the mountains to get to the coal – it’s just cheaper.

I thought Reece did an incredible job as an investigative reporter and the book is well written and easy to read. The weakest part is the conclusion where he tries to end the book with hope. It’s going to take a lot more than pretty poetry to solve this problem. I think that as oil becomes more expensive, national attention is going to turn towards coal. I hear politicians talk about "clean coal technology," but it’s an illusion at the power plant because it doesn’t take into consideration the means of extraction. Coal may even be seen as a way to make more oil (did you know you can make oil from coal??) and we need to know the real cost. In the meantime, isn’t there somebody on Capitol Hill who can force the coal companies to obey the rules??!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Readers: Light green to medium dark green.


Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this book as well. If you're interested in mountaintop coal removal, check out Silas House's website:
He is a KY author who frequently talks about mountaintop removal.

Donna said...

Bobbi - Thanks for your comment. I haven't had time to check out the link, yet, but it looks really interesting. I followed your profile over to your blog and wow! You're a real bookworm! I couldn't find an email for you, would you contact me at:
I've got a question for you.
(Note to everybody: this is a special-use only email address and we don't check it regularly.)

Kale for Sale said...

I'm nearly done with this book and will do a third opinion on it next week because I know I won't be able to help myself. It's another book that makes me want to stand on a street corner with a sign protesting or something. Something. I'm turning the lights out a lot more to start with.

Thanks for the additional links bobbi and Shannon.

Going Crunchy said...

Note: Comment removed, edited and replaced for slacker typos.

Love this post Donna!

Readers might enjoy the "Ruminations of a Country Girl" blog at:

She has a badge on her site that connects moutaintop removal to coal company, and it is pretty eye opening. The links are a very good resource on the subject.

Take the time to do the online letter to your fuel company concerning the subject.

I have seen "some" mountaintop removal firsthand, and I can attest that the horrible sight.

Even for those that are still skeptics about global warming, etc. by fossil fuels- - -one look at this absolute destruction of both environment and community culture just brings you to your knees.

Vice T.V. also has an excellent online documentary on the subject. Freaking powerful stuff.

Thanks for bringing this books to the blog!!! Shan

Donna said...

kale: A third opinion -- I love it!!! Go for it. The more people that protest, the better. I don't know WHAT it will take to get it stopped.

Shannon: Thanks for your comment(s) & links (I saw your original and didn't notice any typos, so it must have been pretty subtle!). Here on the west coast we are so far removed from coal that you are the first person I've known to have actually seen mountaintop removal. Sounds like it's every bit as gruesome as it sounds. :(

Joyce said...

Thanks for the review. This one really interests me!

Donna said...

JOyce: It's a pretty quick read, and I highly recommend it.

Green Bean said...

Donna - everything to you is a pretty quick read. ;-) (Jealousy talking here).

BerryBird said...

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book, too, Donna. For those of us who've never seen mountaintop removal, it is certainly an eye opening read. The greed and corruption that enables this destruction is terrifying.

Donna said...

GB: Not quite everything -- Deep Economy was a slow one. ;-)

berrybird: Thanks again for drawing our attention to this book. I totally agree with your description of the greed & corruption - yipes!