Where There Are Mountains

An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians

Title Details

Pages: 364

Illustrations: 24 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 10/01/2020

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5838-3

List Price: $29.95

Where There Are Mountains

An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

A timely study of change in a complex environment, Where There Are Mountains explores the relationship between human inhabitants of the southern Appalachians and their environment. Incorporating a wide variety of disciplines in the natural and social sciences, the study draws information from several viewpoints and spans more than four hundred years of geological, ecological, anthropological, and historical development in the Appalachian region. The book begins with a description of the indigenous Mississippian culture in 1500 and ends with the destructive effects of industrial logging and dam building during the first three decades of the twentieth century.

Donald Edward Davis discusses the degradation of the southern Appalachians on a number of levels, from the general effects of settlement and industry to the extinction of the American chestnut due to blight and logging in the early 1900s. This portrait of environmental destruction is echoed by the human struggle to survive in one of our nation's poorest areas. The farming, livestock raising, dam building, and pearl and logging industries that have gradually destroyed this region have also been the livelihood of the Appalachian people. The author explores the sometimes conflicting needs of humans and nature in the mountains while presenting impressive and comprehensive research on the increasingly threatened environment of the southern Appalachians.

The southern Appalachian Mountains have been raped, robbed, and pillaged for centuries. Where There Are Mountains casts new light on a largely ignored subject, illustrating the cultural and environmental developments that have occurred in southern Appalachia from an interdisciplinary approach.

—David Kimbrough, author of Taking Up Serpents: Snake Handlers of Eastern Kentucky

Where There Are Mountains is an impressively researched and persuasively argued environmental history of Appalachia. . . . It is a fresh and original piece of work.

—Ronald L. Lewis, author of Transforming the Appalachian Countryside

Rigorous scholarship, accessible prose, and evocative description . . . Anyone who harbors lingering doubts about the value of marrying Appalachian Studies to environmental history should read Don Davis's book. It will lay these doubts to rest.

Appalachian Journal

[A] well-written narrative that is readily accessible to general readers. One can easily understand why this work won an award for outstanding writing on the Southern environments. . . . [T]his book remains the single best introduction to the subject for general readers and undergraduate students, so the paperback edition is welcome.

Mississippi Quarterly

The book is lively, clear and enjoyable. . . . I recommend this book as a great introduction to the environmental issues of the past in the Southern Appalachia, which still affect us today.

Rapid River

Offers a fresh perspective on the ways we can understand economic, cultural, and environmental change.

Environmental History

A valuable contribution to the growing list of works on southern environmental history.

Georgia Historical Quarterly

All too often, regional histories limit their scope to contemporary political boundaries, ignoring the fact that nature seldom respects lines on a map. Where There Are Mountains bucks that trend as it takes up the ambitious task of chronicling the southern Appalachians as a unified ecological and cultural locale. . . . Davis understands that history is just as much a process of the land shaping us, often more so than we shaping it.

Blue Ridge Outdoors


Phillip D. Reed Memorial Award, Southern Environmental Law Center

About the Author/Editor

DONALD EDWARD DAVIS is an independent scholar, author, and former Fulbright fellow. He has authored or edited seven books, including Southern United States: An Environmental History. His second book, Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians, won the prestigious Philip D. Reed Environmental Writing Award. Davis was also the founding member of the Georgia Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, serving as its president from 2005 to 2006. He is currently employed by the Harvard Forest as a part-time research scholar and lives in Washington, D.C.