Two Appalachian authors record personal stories of local resistance against the coal industry in this “revelatory work . . . oral history at its best” (Studs Terkel).
Developed as an alternative to strip mining, mountaintop removal mining consists of blasting away the tops of mountains, dumping waste into the valleys, and retrieving the exposed coal. This process buries streams, pollutes wells and waterways, and alters fragile ecologies—all of which has a devastating impact on local communities.
Something's Rising gives a stirring voice to the lives, culture, and determination of the people fighting this destructive practice in the coalfields of central Appalachia. The people who live, work, and raise families here face not only the destruction of their land but also the loss of their culture and health. Each person's story, unique and unfiltered, is prefaced with a biographical essay that vividly establishes the interview settings and the subjects' connections to their region.
Included here are oral histories from Jean Ritchie, "the mother of folk," who doesn't let her eighty-six years slow down her fighting spirit; Judy Bonds, a tough-talking coal-miner's daughter; Kathy Mattea, the beloved country singer who believes cooperation is the key to winning the battle; Jack Spadaro, the heroic whistle-blower who has risked everything to share his insider knowledge of federal mining agencies; Larry Bush, who doesn't back down even when speeding coal trucks are used to intimidate him; Denise Giardina, a celebrated writer who ran for governor to bring attention to the issue; and many more.
Novelist House (Clay's Quilt) and Kentucky journalist Howard, both "children of Appalachia," decided to pick up where the national media have left off in their environmental obsession, illuminating the long-growing mining crisis in Central Appalachia. Twelve Appalachians-among them a college student, former union organizers, community activists and the octogenarian "mother of folk," Jean Ritchey-provide first-hand accounts of a disappearing way of life, a vital ecology in rapid decline, an industry that refuses to take responsibility for the devastation it causes (blowing the tops off mountains is only the latest, most destructive technique), and a nation too hooked on cheap energy to help. If nothing else, these oral histories will give readers a sense of what's at stake on a personal level. Student Nathan Hall calls mining the best job he ever had: "I met the most interesting characters of my life... the most hilarious, most good hearted." Says Judy Bond, lifelong resident of the leading coal-producing county in W.V., "The more coal we mine, the poorer we get." This important collection illuminates the ongoing betrayal of the American mining town.