Author: Stephen Kurczy
Publisher: Dey Street Books
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Book Description: A stunning portrait of an Appalachian community, the people who call it home, and the enduring human quest for quiet
Deep in the Appalachian Mountains lies the last truly quiet town in America. Green Bank, West Virginia, is a place at once futuristic and old-fashioned: It’s home to the Green Bank Observatory, where astronomers search the depths of the universe using the latest technology, while schoolchildren go without WiFi or iPads. With a ban on all devices emanating radio frequencies that might interfere with the observatory’s telescopes, Quiet Zone residents live a life free from constant digital connectivity. But a community that on the surface seems idyllic is a place of contradictions, where the provincial meets the seemingly supernatural and quiet can serve as a cover for something darker.
Stephen Kurczy embedded in Green Bank, making the residents of this small Appalachian village his neighbors. He shopped at the town’s general store, attended church services, went target shooting with a seven-year-old, square-danced with the locals, sampled the local moonshine. In The Quiet Zone, he introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters. There is a tech buster patrolling the area for illegal radio waves; “electrosensitives” who claim that WiFi is deadly; a sheriff’s department with a string of unsolved murder cases dating back decades; a camp of neo-Nazis plotting their resurgence from a nearby mountain hollow. Amongst them all are the ordinary citizens seeking a simpler way of living. Kurczy asks: Is a less connected life desirable? Is it even possible?
The Quiet Zone is a remarkable work of investigative journalism—at once a stirring ode to place, a tautly-wound tale of mystery, and a clarion call to reexamine the role technology plays in our lives.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review: Stephen Kurczy writes of his journey to a West Virginia town where any radio waves are not allowed. This town is surrounded by an Observatory that believes radio waves can hinder the performance of their telescopes. When you sign on to come here, know you can not use your cell phone unless on airplane mode. Laptops have a much similar protocol.
As Kurczy explores this town and the people who live there he learns more about the Quiet Zone. People who come here for health reasons, politicians who want to come here for peace and the hunting is just sublime.
However, the longer Kurczy stays here, he learns that there is a lot of holes to this story and maybe not everything is as quiet as he expected.
This was an interesting read. I am not sure I would have picked this up on my own, but it came recommended by a source I trust. I am not sure this will be of interest to everyone, but there was a lot of good points and it is extremely readable.
Thank you NetGalley and Dey Street Books for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.