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Rock Climbing in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge: An Oral History of Community, Resources, and Tourism by James N. Maples

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No maps, no photos. This is NOT a guide book. Trust the sub-title. It is a book of oral history of what used to be a corner of Eastern Kentucky with practically no useful resources and then quickly became transformed into a place with overwhelming resources in the form of rocks to climb and landscapes to visit. The news in the local papers ceased to be just a visit from somebody’s aunt and became, too often, a camper falling to his death when he emerged from his tent on a dark night to take a piss. The author, James N. Maples, is a sociology professor at Eastern Kentucky University whose book concludes with his policy recommendations on what locals and visitors have learned and how they can work together for ecotourism and community development with an eye towards preservation of a community’s unique resources. “Well-written, accessible, and succinct. Historians, Kentuckians, scholars, and dirtbags alike will find this volume illuminating” – Kristi McLeod Fondren. “Maples’s historical account of rock climbing in the Red River Gorge brings the people and places to life. . . . Maples’s work will aid in understanding the past and present, and it will inform the future of outdoor recreation in the area.” - Michael J. Bradle. “A climbing history of the Red—a global climbing mecca—is a major contribution. And like the climbers he studies, Maples pushes further, telling a larger story about the transformational power and possibility of climbing in Appalachia and beyond. Climbers, conservationists, public land advocates, and anyone with an interest in this region should read this book to understand how climbing is a complex force to be reckoned with and how climbers can be a force for good.” - Zachary Lesch-Huie.

Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2021. 229 pages with an Index, Bibliography, and Notes.  Trade paperback.