Book co-edited by Western’s Blethen receives Wolfe literary award

CULLOWHEE – “High Mountains Rising: Appalachia in Time and Place,” a book co-edited by Western Carolina University history professor H. Tyler Blethen, is the 2005 winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association.

Blethen collaborated on the book with Richard A. Straw, a history professor at Radford University. Consisting of 14 essays written by top scholars in Appalachian studies, the book is considered to be the first comprehensive volume to unite Appalachian history and culture.

The first half of “High Mountains Rising” deals with historical issues such as Native Americans, pioneer settlement, industrialization, migration and modernization, while the second half of the book focuses on cultural issues such as stereotypes, music, folk life, language, literature and religion.

The WNC Historical Association presents the Thomas Wolfe Award to outstanding publications that promote the history and culture of the region, or publications that were written by regional residents. Previous recipients of the award include Wilma Dykman, John Ehle, Charles Frazier, Gail Godwin and John Parris.

The association’s awards committee found “High Mountains Rising” to be “an important reference for understanding Appalachia for both longtime residents and newcomers to the region, as well as an excellent text for students of Appalachia.”

Earlier this year, “High Mountains Rising” received the 2005 Appalachian Book of the Year Award for nonfiction from the Appalachian Writers Association. The book was published by the University of Illinois Press.