Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness

Article excerpt

Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness, by Erik Reece. Riverhead, February 2006. $24.95

In September of 2003, University of Kentucky professor Erik Reece visited Lost Mountain, situated on the Cumberland Plateau of the Appalachian Mountains. Exactly one year later, that mountain was gone, having been strip-mined for the coal within. Lost Mountain is Recce's month-by-month chronicle of the systematic removal of a 300-million-year-old mountain and of the effects of the coal mining industry on the people and environment of Appalachia.

The book is not so much a journal as it is an unmasking: of the myriad ways that the coal industry has found its environmental restrictions lifted under the Bush administration, of the language used to euphemize the destruction of a landscape, and of those who wield the smallest amount of power in their struggle for sustainable, healthy living, the Appalachian poor. Reece bears witness to the devastations of strip mining to entire communities, from the creeks whose contents are poisoned by acid mine water and the degreasing solvents that coal companies spray on their equipment, to the homes weakened by blasting and then washed away by the flooding that results from loss of vegetation and improper placement of valley fills. …

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