Southern Appalachian Celebration: In Praise of Ancient Mountains, Old-Growth Forests, and Wilderness

Southern Appalachian Celebration, Book Cover Published by University of North Carolina Press, 2011. Created in collaboration with photographer James Valentine.   The world’s most famous biologist, Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, says:  “No book of my experience has ever caught the natural beauty and richness of southern Appalachia with greater exactitude.”

Reviews:  “Because this is a large, magnificent volume of lush photographs, it can be approached as simply an eye-catching book for the coffee table, to be browsed for its sheer beauty… The succinct captions provided by Chris Bolgiano and accompanying text are essential companions to the photos, framing a context for each image and a narrative for the complete work.”  — Tennessee Libraries

“Chris Bolgiano’s accompanying text … provides fascinating details about the locations highlighted by Valentine’s photographs.”  — North Carolina Libraries

“This fine book is not only a collection of stunning photographs but also a natural history of a singular region.” — Library Journal

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Mighty Giants, An American Chestnut Anthology

Book entitled Mighty GiantsPublished by Images from the Past and sponsored by The American Chestnut Foundation, Bennington, Vermont, December 1, 2007. This anthology tells in images and words, the story of the once mighty monarch of the eastern forests, the American Chestnut, the lifestyle it supported for so many people, its destruction from an imported fungus and the inspiring efforts to restore it.

Reviews: “Editor Bolgiano gathers photographs, essays, poems, and personal recollections into a fascinating cornucopia of all things chestnut. … Images of the big trees evoke an aching sense of what’s lost, while stories of those trying to save them are cause for hope and admiration … highly recommended, even for those libraries outside the chestnut belt.” — Robert Eagan, Library Journal, 2008.

“Sponsored by The American Chestnut Foundation, this book will serve its readers well … Includes biological descriptions, historical encounters, oral histories from chestnut lovers spanning centuries, accounts of the arrival of the chestnut blight, and efforts to date at returning this tree to its established place of prominence. — Lori Enth, The Bloomsbury Review, March/April, 2008.

Winner of the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Award, Silver, for Best Regional Non-Fiction.

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The Eastern Cougar:  Historic Accounts, Scientific Investigations, and New Evidence

Book entitled The Eastern CougarPublished by Stackpole Books, July 27, 2005 on behalf of the nonprofit Cougar Rewilding Foundation, formerly the Eastern Cougar Foundation. Co-edited by Chris Bolgiano and Jerry Roberts, this anthology brings together, for the first time ever, information on the confused history and controversial current status of the cougar in Eastern North America. Never before have scientifically reputable confirmations of field evidence — several dozen of them — been compiled in one publication.  Includes maps, historic and contemporary illustrations, and an extensive bibliography. This publication was used by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for the official review of Eastern Cougar status.

Review: “The book is educational and provides an excellent glimpse into the cat’s current status by delivering enough evidence to convince even the skeptical of its possible persistence in the landscapes of the eastern United States.” — Samuel Skalak, Journal of Mammalogy, Volume 88, Issue 2 (April 2007), pp. 534-535.

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Living in the Appalachian Forest:  True Tales of Sustainable Forestry

Book Entitled Living in the Appalachian ForestPublished by Stackpole Books, 2002  From a tattooed ex-con logger to the Republican president of the Sierra Club, from industrial strength timbering to the delicate art of virtually wild forest herb gardening, this book examines the people and the practices that are defining what “sustainable” means in our postindustrial woodlands.

Winner of two literary awards in 2003:

  • The Reed Memorial Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment from the Southern Environmental Law Center
  • Virginia Outdoor Writers Association’s Excellence in Craft Contest

Reviews: “Chris Bolgiano has achieved a bit of literary alchemy by mixing the emerging science of sustainable forestry with personal stories…  The result is pure gold — a book of deeply human insights into both the history and present realities of life.” — American Forests

“Read this fine new book twice:  once for pleasure with your feet up, to savor Bolgiano’s character sketches, and again to record ideas to send elected officials.” Roanoke Times

“Veteran environmental writer Chris Bolgiano … does an excellent job of pointing the way toward several innovative approaches to using Blue Ridge forests without destroying them.” — Blue Ridge Outdoors

“Bolgiano’s charismatic book … is a worthy contribution to the discussion of sustainable forestry.  Lessons in this book are applicable to professional foresters.” — Journal of Forestry

“Like the author, the individuals in the book are charting a new course toward harmony with the land … the tales are entertaining to read, but more importantly, they are enlightening. — Forest Leaves

“From all of (the) mess caused by our hunger for wood, Bolgiano’s book offers welcome nourishment, like a spring surrounded by deep woods … Bolgiano’s rich language and even tone … (convey) the challenges of healthy living in our mountains, and the urgency of sustaining a sense of the sacred in both ourselves and our woods.” — Appalachian Journal

“An engaging narrative … Bolgiano has written another fine book.   It’s good forestry, good history, and good writing.” — Appalachian Heritage

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The Appalachian Forest, A Search For Roots and Renewal

Book Entitled The Appalachian ForestPublished by Stackpole Books, August 1, 1998. More than a biological overview, this is also an exploration of Appalachian life and its many contradictions, including the poverty of a region so rich in natural resources. From Cherokees to bear hunters, this book views the mountains from a continuum of perspectives.

Reviews: “One of the three best natural history books published in 1998…a  ‘must’ read’.— Asheville (NC) Citizen-Times

“A comprehensive study, personalized with anecdotes of the author’s own experiences … should not be limited to the geographic area in question, as it addresses broader issues of ecology, conservation, and recreational use of public lands.”  — Library Journal

“Bolgiano takes on nothing less than the comprehensive history of the southern Appalachian chain … With an unmistakable passion for the land (and) well-researched and meticulously compiled facts…Bolgiano offers a studied and heartfelt call to preserve the mountains.” — The Washington Post  

“Bolgiano weaves her personal experiences in mountain living with beautifully written sketches of the region’s biological and human history.” — The Roanoke (VA) Times

“The great strength of this important volume (is that) Bolgiano recognizes the complex relationships between Appalachian human culture, the limitations (of) economic distress, and the ecological realities of the mountain forests.  At the same time, she does offer hope.” — Appalachian Heritage

“Covers the geology, flora, fauna, and human story from pre-history to the present…Despite pollution, sprawl and other challenges, Bolgiano leavens her concern by voicing delight at certain signs of progress…and ultimately finds that the southern Appalachians remain ‘so lovely, they lull you into believing anything is possible.’ Even saving them.” — Audubon Naturalist News

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Mountain Lion:  An Unnatural History of Pumas and People

Book entitled Mountain Lion, an unnatural history of pumas and peoplePublished by Stackpole Books, 1995. Examines the interactions between cougars and people across North America through the millennia.

Reviews: “I consider Mountain Lion an absolute must for my library.  As a book about America’s lion, this is an astonishing piece of research, well told.  But it is more than that; it’s a book about us – about how we are evolving as a people, making room in our hearts and our land for our great cat and the wilderness it represents.” — Ted Williams, Audubon Magazine columnist

“This is an extraordinary book.  Well-researched and authentic, Mountain Lion tells the story of America’s love-hate relationship with its biggest cat in a literate, highly readable prove.  Highly recommended.”  —  David Brown, Editor, The Wolf in the Southwest

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Contributor to:   An Appalachian Tragedy: Air Pollution & Tree Death in the Eastern Forest of North America

Cover for Appalachian Tragedy(Published by Sierra Club Books, 1998. Edited by Harvard Ayers, Jenny Hager, and Charles E. Little.)

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Contributor to:   Shadow Cat: Encountering the American Mountain Lion

shadowCat_w(Sasquatch Press, April 1999.  Edited by Susan Ewing and Elizabeth Grossman.)

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Contributor to:  Uncommon Wealth: Essays on Virginia’s Wild Places

Cover for Uncommon Weatlth(Published by Falcon Press, 1999. Authored by Nature Conservancy.) “From the rugged Appalachians to the Atlantic shore, from the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia boasts diverse natural wonders amidst its settled landscapes. In this first-of-its-kind collection of original essays, 20 of Virginia’s finest authors–nature writers, essayists, and journalists–immerse themselves in 20 different wild places. In essays that range from natural history to social commentary to childhood memories, their tone varies from reflective to outraged to humorous–each one uniquely personal.” — From the Back Cover of Uncommon Wealth

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Readers’ Comments

Dear Ms. Bolgiano,

I just finished my read (of  The Appalachian Forest).  A rich meal!  I felt I had a lot in front of me to chew on and you served it well and with grace. I look forward to reading all of your writings. Thank you.  — Kay VS,  Holland,MI.

Dear Chris,

I have just finished reading your fantastic book, Mountain Lion. Your book is the first book dealing with the Mountain Lion that I have ever read. I would hate to have to judge other books on this subject after reading yours. I’m afraid they might not hold up. I remember my first Dr. Pepper so many years ago; the other drinks just don’t taste as good today.  I learned so many things that were not on my brain menu from reading your book. Several of your sentences left me in stitches. — Bob C, South Boston, VA.

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