Bret James Stewart's Reviews > Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians

Mountains of the Heart by Scott Weidensaul
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it was amazing

This book rocks. Weidensaul is a scientist writing about the Appalachian Range. He has written a number of other nature books and is a licensed bird bander. I expected this book to be dry as so many books written by scientists are. It seems they go out of their way to suck any vitality out of the text. Weidensaul, however, as the title implies, brings a love and vitality to the text that is phenomenal. He loves the mountains, and it shows. The book is written more like a story than a scientific text, so you can relate to it. Combining learning and fun--what a novel idea!

He and I, of course, bring different perspectives to the text. He is coming from an evolutionary perspective, and I from the bibilical/creation perspective. He lives in Pennsylvania, so he probably mispronounces the word as "Appa-lay-shun" rather than the correct way, "Appa-latch-un", but I can forgive him for this :). Other than these, there is no problem.

Weidensaul treats the Appalachians holistically, which is refreshing. He addresses natural history, animals, plants, geology, climatology, etc., tying them all together into one living entity--this is how an area, large or small, should be treated. He does deal with current issues such as global warming, but this is not the focus of the book. What I love most about it is that he is clearly having fun. Whether he is tagging raptors, carefully lifting logs seeking salamanders, or floating the rivers examining aquatic ecosystems, he is having a smashing good time, and that sort of passion transfers to the book. He makes you love what he loves.

The icing on the cake is the artwork. The cover art is fantastic, incorporating what I consider to be the two primary calling cards of the Appalachians: running water and autumnal colour. The interior art is nicely chosen. Some is technical, but most just beautiful. As with the text, Weidensaul has managed to bring an element of personality to the artwork, which makes it stand out of the crowd.

There you have it. If you are interested in a book with accurate and impressive scientific chops, or you're seeking a nature-based philosophical jaunt a la Thoreau (but more active), or travelogue highlighted with tons of anecdotal and factual tidbits, or some mixture of them all, this is a book for you. I urge anyone who is interested in any aspect of the Appalachian Mountains--and everyone should be--to read this book.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
November 15, 2013 – Shelved

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