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Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  496 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
A new form of strip mining has caused a state of emergency for the Appalachian wilderness and the communities that depend on it-a crisis compounded by issues of government neglect, corporate hubris, and class conflict. In this powerful call to arms, Erik Reece chronicles the year he spent witnessing the systematic decimation of a single mountain and offers a landmark defen ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 6th 2007 by Riverhead Books (first published 2006)
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Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! In a single, yearlong case study, Reece follows the obliteration of aptly named Lost Mountain due to strip mining, studying its impact on local communities, businesses and ecosystems. He presents two separate sides of this method of coal extraction. He stimulates a conversation between both the locals who have been devastated by this mining method, and those who thrive off of its economic value. However, it is my opinion that in the conclusion of his book, Lost Mountain, Reece ...more
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who cares about the environment
Mountains are being destroyed in Eastern Kentucky.... leveled into "pasturelands"??? Grasslands where the tops of mountains once were?? Woodland species are losing their habitat, people are being posioned by contaminated water supply, homes and lives are being destroyed by the "spoil" coming off the mountain, and overweight coal trucks driven by sleep deprived truckers on narrow mountain roads present a constant threat to residents driving these roads. It is easy to ignore all this when you don' ...more
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: about-appalachia
Please read this. It will really school you on a pressing, unaddressed issue that affects us all. It had me crying in the public library.
Renee Wallace
Oct 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have researched both sides, ... and I still give this book five stars. I am so tired of the lame argument that we must still see "coal as our future," until another method can be found. Other methods HAVE been found, but there is so much criminal money tied up in the coal industry, and so many misled goops still rallying behind the coal bosses, that no one with the wherewithal to do so is doing ANYTHING to promote other energy sources.

It was enough, for me, that most of the men on the in-laws
Eamon Burgess
Oct 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding book. Shocking on many levels. Shows the devestation of mountain top removal in the search for coal. This book opens the door into the world of strip mining and the devestation it causes to the enviorment and people who live near it. It is sad how we continue to destroy americas rainforest in the search for cheap energy. Highly recommend this book.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those looking for "the book" to understand mountain top removal coal mining
Shelves: enviro-justice
Despite this book's tone (casual) and length (short), it was packed with science, statistics, and stories. Reece seemed to be going for some sort of nature essays, but what he ended up with was solid journalism and a very readable, informative book. I wish there was an index, because I've found myself referring back to his research. I really enjoyed this.
Annie Oosterwyk
AAAAGHHH!!! How is it possible that something like this can happen???? This is a must read for those who care about the environment and where their energy comes from.
The author chronicles the disappearance of a mountain during the course of his investigation. CLEAN COAL MY #$@!
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book is an extremely insightful and well written account of the terrible effects of strip mining. Taught me a lot and I would recommend this to anyone who isn't close minded or fucking stupid.
Edward Sullivan
A revealing look at the horrors of mountain top removal mining.
Dennis Fischman
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I began this book appreciating Reece's project of documenting the year-long destruction of a mountain to get at its coal. His eye caught the telling details. His turns of phrase were beautiful and sometimes witty but breathtakingly sad. As the book went on, however, I became more and more angry at the people that Kentucky chose to govern it and represent it, who gave every accommodation to Massey Coal and other companies and literally allowed them to get away with murder.

One of these elected of
Esther Pierce
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A devastating description of mountaintop removal mining which continues to this day in Appalachia. The author focuses on a single mountain and the impact is clear and relevant.
A worthwhile addition to the library of any environmentalist.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Important topic, emotionally persuasive. Arguments could have better logical structure.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great read on strip mining-
"Coal is cheap because it is extracted with the least concern for the land that offers it up." (p. 178)

I live in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio. My great-grandfather mined coal on and off for much of his teens and twenties, often on his hands and knees in an underground shaft (he was usually too tall to stand at 6'6"). His family, including my grandmother, lived in company towns that conspired to keep their people poor and dependent. To this day, if you live in my home county, you must have m
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I indirectly found out about this book after watching a documentary on “The Real McCoys”, a story about a couple of married teachers from Inez, Kentucky, who took to the streets to protest coal burning and mountaintop removal. Eric Reece was only a blip in passing while they were out protesting, but I caught the title of his book “Lost Mountain” and became curious.
I was really taken back by Reece’s book.
It was well-written, it was entertaining, it was personal, it was moving. Most importantly,
Matthew Stein
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read part of this book for a class I took in college. This book brings to light the actions mining companies are taking to get the resources that they need. In Eastern Kentucky, the mining companies are destroying mountains to get to the coal found in the mountains. The author tells stories of what the people are experiencing. Many of the people living near the mining sites are experiencing sickness and death at high rates. As a country it is time to start the transition from fossil fuels to r ...more
Aleck Fredereick
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Lost Mountain is a very good book. Erik Reece did a great job of showing the problems that happen in places in kentucky. He does a very good job of showing examples and many of the problems that occur from the many mining companies. This book is based around the strip mining, and the devastation of the Appalachian mountains. All the data and examples of how these things are harmful are based on a lifetime of experiences.

The novel starts out talking about endangered species that are in the m
Perez Malone
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: environmentalists
Shelves: own
I liked this book but felt that the Harper's essay he wrote was better. This book wanders too much and Reece spends too much time telling the reader that "it's all connected". I get it and think that it is an important message, but it doesn't need to be given in each chapter. He also spends far too much time taking pot shots at religious people, especially in the conclusion. It's supposed to be about mountain-top removal.
Still, there was a lot of good, most of which was covered in the Harper's e
Jun 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: environmentalists
Shelves: own
I liked this book but felt that the Harper's essay he wrote was better. This book wanders too much and Reece spends too much time telling the reader that "it's all connected". I get it and think that it is an important message, but it doesn't need to be given in each chapter. He also spends far too much time taking pot shots at religious people, especially in the conclusion. It's supposed to be about mountain-top removal.
Still, there was a lot of good, most of which was covered in the Harper's e
Oct 10, 2007 rated it liked it
I had to read this book in order to teach it for my NKU classes. (NKU chose it as the freshman book for the year.)

At first I thought, "Oh, hell. I have to read about coal mining." (And now that I'm in the middle of grading 59 freshman papers on the topic, I am REALLY not enjoying it.) But then it turned out to be really good. Every other chapter is a personal accoung of a mountain, Lost Mountain, that is in KY and is undergoing mountaintop removal for coal. The alternating chapters are mostly in
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Great book for anyone interested in ecological studies or Appalachian studies. The author visits Lost Mountain for a period of one year, and he witnesses how the "mountaintop removal" process (e.g., strip mining) affects the slope and contours. He also interviews and discusses the topic with local activists, businessmen, and community residents. It's interesting that one chapter will feature a man who lost his garden spot to a slurry spill while the next chapter will feature a diner owner with p ...more
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Overall I thought the book was extremely well written. I was engaged the entire time while reading: so much so that I had almost forgotten it was required reading for a class. I became more and more eager to finish the book with each passing page. Reece has a fantastic balance of educational material and heartbreaking personal accounts of people affected by strip mining. A picture of Lost Mountain, illustrating the changes extremely well, accompanies each chapter. The fact that he did all of his ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ethics
Lost Mountain is a riveting read, a vivid look into the travesty and devastation of mountain top removal coal mining in Eastern Kentucky. Reece is a poet and a naturalist, and connects the reader to the beauty of the land, which makes its destruction more harrowing. Echoes of Muir, Thoreau, and Berry can be heard throughout. The book also does a good job of painting a picture of the complexity of the issues surrounding coal mining in Eastern Kentucky, with sharp divides between people within the ...more
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this popular account of strip mining in Kentucky. Reece brings the urgency of recognizing the environmental degradation caused by coal powered electricity to the fore. It makes me want to cry to read about the total disregard for nature and people's lives. By contrasting changes in the 'natural world' -- species extinction, forest fragmentation, etc. with the techniques used by the mining industry and the actions of local peoples with the lobbyists and supporters of strip mining ...more
Feb 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
For those who missed this when it was first published in 2006... The current visibilty of debate about radical strip mining (blowing the tops off mountains to get coal)prompts me to point to Erik Reece's absorbing account of a year spent spying on such an oepration. Reece converys the human toll, the frightening power of the explosions, and the acidic devestation of the land --the mountian tops end up in valleys, and streams are blocked; clean-ups are half-hearted; the vegetation the companies p ...more
Barry Flanders
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A great book. It clearly brings home the horrible destruction brought by mountaintop removal mining, not just for humans but for the thousands of animals that make the mountains their home. The pollution of rivers and creeks, mercury-laden dust and removal of untold numbers of trees from the mountains are graphically described. If you are interested in the environment, I would highly recommend this book. Also hoping they never bring this kind of mining to the mountains of North Carolina!
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Very readable, this is the story of mountain top removal coal mining in Kentucky and the way that the coal industry influences so much in Appalachia. There are not very many thing that make me feel violent, but coporate greed and destruction is one of them and this book is a devastating example of this. I felt the same way after watching the documentary The Future of Food, which looked largely at Monsanto.
Jan 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
A much-needed account of the ecological and cultural devastation caused by mountaintop removal mining in eastern Kentucky, western Virginia, and southern West Virginia.

In alternating chapters, the author visits a mountain monthly that is being destroyed by coal mining. I prefer the intervening chapters where he visits with the people that are closely involved with mountaintop removal including scientists, local residents, and even some of the miners.
David Altemeier
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is like a slow motion horror story that takes place over the course of a year.
And the victim is a mountain.


That's just, like, maybe the most messed up thing ever.


Well written and easy to read (or at least as easy as anything on this topic can be).
Patrick Walsh
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I can't remember when I read this; it has to be at least two or three years ago. This is one of the more sickening and discouraging environmental books I've read. Coal extraction by mountaintop removal in Appalachia has done irreparable damage in a part of the country where the citizens are least able to combat it.
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“Who is destroying the mountains of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia?...It isn't the coal companies. It's us...You did this. Okay, forget the guilt. How can we change that?” 1 likes
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