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University of Kentucky author captures national attention with 'Lost Mountain'

After spending a year watching Lost Mountain change from a dense, glorious ecosystem to barren land, Erik Reece's soul was stirred to respond to the loss with his first book "Lost Mountain: A Year in the Vanishing Wilderness, Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia." The book was released nation-wide Feb. 2.

Reece, University of Kentucky English lecturer, is known for his powerful essays on political topics such as strip mining and religion. In "Lost Mountain" Reece observes the systematic obliteration of a peak located in the middle of what scientists regard as the North American rainforest because of its remarkable density and diversity of plants, birds, and animals. The mountain was also situated in Eastern Kentucky, one of the poorest places in the country, where coal mining has been virtually the only industry for more than a century.

"To know about strip mining or mountaintop removal is like knowing about the nuclear bomb. It is to know beyond doubt that some human beings have, and are willing to use, the power of absolute destruction," writes Wendell Berry in the foreword. "It is a superb job of reporting, and we have it at the cost of the effort, grief, and risk involved in observing from beginning to end the process of the industrial destruction of a mountain and the ruin of its watersheds. No other reporter has had the perseverance and the guts to do a respectable fraction of what Mr. Reece has done."

Reece, who grew up in Kentucky and whose father worked in the mining industry, makes it clear in "Lost Mountain" that strip-mining is neither a local concern nor a radical contention, but a mainstream crisis that encompasses every hot-button issue from corporate conflict and poisoned groundwater, to irrevocable species extinction and landscape destruction. "Lost Mountain" aims to shape the national debate about what Reece considers to be one of the most serious and devastating environmental crises facing our nation.
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Contact: Jennifer T. Allen
jstayl1@uky.edu
859-257-1754
University of Kentucky
8-Feb-2006


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