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Spotlight: Plundering Appalachia

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Plundering Appalachia

Edited by Tom Butler and George Wuethner
Earth Aware Editions, $49.95

For sheer scale of environmental devastation, mountaintop strip mining has almost no equal. Through oversize photographs and a wealth of statistics, Plundering Appalachia: The Tragedy of Mountaintop-Removal Coal Mining, edited by Tom Butler and George Wuerthner, provides a searing indictment of the practice. Nearly 500 mountains have been blown apart in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. In place of biodiversity, the region is left with vast lagoons of toxic sludge, a steady fall of coal dust, and pollutants that seep into drinking wells. Meanwhile, the region's culture has been steadily eroded by the pressure to provide cheap energy to the rest of us. Plundering Appalachia isn't light reading. But with contributions by Wendell Berry, Douglas Tompkins, and two dozen acclaimed photographers, it serves as a poignant reminder of the damage that mankind continues to wreak on itself, and gives moving voice to the many people working hard to stop it.