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Far Appalachia: Following the New River…

Far Appalachia: Following the New River North

by Noah Adams

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The linked chapters in this book add up to a gentle and beautiful but low key trip down the New River, from its headwaters in the mountains of North Carolina to its intersection with the Gauley in West Virginia, where the two rivers become the Kanawha. It's a short, fast read, with a close focus on the river and people who live or work by or on it - so it doesn't really provide a window into the broader economics or politics of the region.

I've never lived in the watershed, but I've visited places in it a bunch. That's not usually the case for places I read about in travel books, and it made for an odd experience - the book felt very familiar (and accurate), not foreign or exotic. For readers who have lived in the urban areas of the midAtlantic but traveled to rural Virginia and West Virginia, this book is likely to serve as a lovely reminder of the watershed, and perhaps a spur to another long weekend visit. I'm really curious what it would signify to someone from much further away. As a side note, the title of the book - Far Appalachia - comes from a phrase used by Horace Kephart, who studies and wrote about families living in remote areas of the Great Smoky Mountains, well to the south and west of the New River. But, it works well enough for a title, and does convey the remoteness of the river once it gets deep into West Virginia. ( )
  bezoar44 | Dec 27, 2015 |
River trips on New river, N. Carl & West Virg.
  ahrens28 | Dec 27, 2008 |
Nice easygoing interesting read.
The literary equivalent of floating on the river Mr. Adams writes about. ( )
  hredwards | Oct 12, 2007 |
Noah Adams has put together a delightful tale of his travels on the backroads and waters of the New River (which flows north from it's start in North Carolina to West Virginia). Apparently Adams is a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered which I have listened to for years, but I just can't place the voice right now. *sigh*

Not only does Adams present you with a glimpse into modern-day small-town Appalachia, there's also history told of the New River area and its settlers. I loved the story of Mary Draper Ingles and can tell that I'll be searching out more infomation on this woman's incredible journey. As one who's been down the New (in WV) a few times, I particularly liked the author's tale of his whitewater rafting trip. I recognised many of the rapids he described. The 'ghost towns' of West Virginia haunted me from the time the river guides told me their stories and Adam's recollections have stirred up my interest to visit them and learn more about the mining communities of West Virginia. It's amazing how man can destroy nature - and how long it takes mother nature to recover.

I really enjoyed this book and found it an easy read - pretty much finished it in one sitting. The tales of the people and places along the New River just captivated me and I must convince my husband that West Virginia is not a land of rednecks and doublewide trailers, but truly a beautiful place that's not densely populated. Maybe one day I'll get back there - with or without him. ( )
1 vote marcinyc | Jul 26, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385320132, Paperback)

Noah Adams, the amiable host of NPR's All Things Considered, is no stranger to the world beyond the Beltway; a native of Kentucky, he's logged plenty of time in wild country, and the travels he recounts in his latest book take him through some of the most rugged in the eastern United States.

Adams travels along the New River, which rises in the mountains of North Carolina, flows generally north into Virginia and West Virginia, and eventually merges with the Ohio and Mississippi. Along the way--traveling by car, bicycle, and canoe--he explains the workings of rapids, his ancestral connection to Appalachia as well as its the history, and even the origins of the term hillbilly. As he wanders, Adams points out local oddities (such as a school bus that incongruously rests on a huge boulder in the middle of a stretch of the New River) and takes in bluegrass festivals, family picnics and the occasional family feud, and little towns and large vistas, by all appearances having a grand time along the way.

"This is just a book about a river. There was no quest involved, only a wish to understand more about this part of the country and my family's past." So writes Adams, with characteristic understatement. It may lack grand purpose, but his book is a pleasure for anyone who knows the country of which he writes, and anyone who enjoys a backroad adventure. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The author journeys back to the America of his ancestors as he follows the New River into the heart of modern-day Appalachia on a 330-mile odyssey on foot, by mountain bike, by canoe, and by whitewater raft.

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