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The Quiet Zone: Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence

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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 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. 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?


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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 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. 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?

30 review for The Quiet Zone: Unraveling the Mystery of a Town Suspended in Silence

  1. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    Imagine living in a place where wi-fi is not just unavailable, it’s banned, along with cellphone signals. Some people would consider this a nightmare while others would consider it an idyllic time warp. The truth is somewhat more complicated. The near radio silence is a requirement for those living in Green Bank, WV, close to the Green Bank Observatory, with the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. To protect the sensitive equipment from interference, the federal government in 1958 es Imagine living in a place where wi-fi is not just unavailable, it’s banned, along with cellphone signals. Some people would consider this a nightmare while others would consider it an idyllic time warp. The truth is somewhat more complicated. The near radio silence is a requirement for those living in Green Bank, WV, close to the Green Bank Observatory, with the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. To protect the sensitive equipment from interference, the federal government in 1958 established the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area in WV. For the young people, there are none of the negative consequences of social media. Families spend more time outdoors appreciating nature, and fostering real-life connections. Those who live here must depend on the kindness of neighbors when an emergency arises. They use land lines, phone booths, and ham radios, to communicate. The residents do have computers but only with sluggish broadband. The area has attracted people looking for a digital detox, unplugging to escape from modern life, and for those seeking refuge for a controversial condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity (think Chuck in Better Call Saul). Investigative journalist, Stephen Kurczy, embedded himself in the area, to give us a first-hand account of what it’s like to live there. Unfortunately, the area has also attracted Neo-Nazis and other extremist groups. I was hoping there would be more information about the Observatory and what it was like to truly live in the area from the regular residents. Instead, the book’s focus zeroed in on the fringe groups, and I began to lose interest. I appreciated learning about the “quiet zone”, which I didn’t know existed. It’s fascinating, and sent me to the internet to learn more (ha!). The irony of using my iPhone to text my reading buddy, googling, using Bluetooth to listen to the book with my AirPods, then typing and posting this review using my laptop is not lost on me. Maybe I need to take a vacation in Green Bank, WV. * I received a digital copy of the book via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. * Published August 3rd 2021 by Dey Street Books * This was a buddy read with my friend Marialyce. Do check out her review!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    Imagine a world without cell phones , WiFi, internet connections, and all the assorted distractions that often take one from the joys of just being quiet. It's an interesting concept for those of us who had once lived in just an era of radio and TV. (which wasn't allowed on school days) Even those everyday needed necessities are banned in a town in western Appalachia, called Green Bank in West Virginia. Many of us would be appalled at being without their electronic buddies, but there is a certain Imagine a world without cell phones , WiFi, internet connections, and all the assorted distractions that often take one from the joys of just being quiet. It's an interesting concept for those of us who had once lived in just an era of radio and TV. (which wasn't allowed on school days) Even those everyday needed necessities are banned in a town in western Appalachia, called Green Bank in West Virginia. Many of us would be appalled at being without their electronic buddies, but there is a certain allure to being totally quiet and alone with one's own thoughts. Stephen Kurczy has written an account of the town, its people, and the Green Bank Observatory that sits so close that all radio frequencies are banned. It's an interesting story partly because of the way in which these people live and the mysteries that surround the Conservatory. The question is one that plagues the author and perhaps the reader. It this conservatory one whose sole purpose is to contact alien life or perhaps there is a chance that this observatory's purpose might have another reason for its existence, that of spying on all Americans? It's a scary thought but one we now know is a true one. Stephen lives among the people, he gets to know them, and what might for some feel like an idyllic existence might have some flaws indeed. Unfortunately, the book did have some flaws as it seemed to overly concentrate on the crazies that were drawn to this place of peace and quiet. I wanted more about the telescope and while the book seemed to include some tantalizing ideas, I felt it missed the mark here. I am also not a fan when an author refers to groups as to their political bent. It intrudes on the book's authenticity I believe There is quite a bit of detail, and of course many questions, the author does raise. Is living in a quiet zone exactly what we need to do, or does it too, offer flaws and foibles that we might not welcome? Thank you to Steven Kurczy, Dey Street Books, and NetGalley for a copy of this book. Jan and I had similar feelings about this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *3-3.5 stars Stephen Kurczy has to be one of very few Americans with no cellphone in his possession. And he hasn't had one for the past ten years. Are you shaking yet?? Going into withdrawal? Or does that sound like an attractive idea? Shades of Henry David Thoreau? If so, you might like Green Bank, West Virginia, where the nation's oldest radio astronomy observatory is located. To detect signs of life from outer space coming to earth in radio waves, the observatory was built back in 1956 and th *3-3.5 stars Stephen Kurczy has to be one of very few Americans with no cellphone in his possession. And he hasn't had one for the past ten years. Are you shaking yet?? Going into withdrawal? Or does that sound like an attractive idea? Shades of Henry David Thoreau? If so, you might like Green Bank, West Virginia, where the nation's oldest radio astronomy observatory is located. To detect signs of life from outer space coming to earth in radio waves, the observatory was built back in 1956 and there they have tried to maintain a 'quiet zone,' restricting the use of things that emit electronic noise by people in the surrounding area. Nowadays it's becoming a great deal harder to control that usage with residents, schools and businesses clamoring to have access to cellphones and WiFi. And the local economy is largely supported by tourism with popular places like Snowshoe Mountain Resort about nine miles from the observatory. Their guests expect the usual amenities. Kurczy, a journalist, has gone to this area many times and gotten to know the residents well, spending quite a bit of time interviewing them, doing research and digging into local history in order to write this book. He says he came to Green Bank presuming that the less connected life would be richer, and it is. But he also discovered some surprising things there too. Humans are humans, wherever you go. We each have to decide how much we are going to allow electronics to take over our lives and even more importantly, our children's. Will we someday rue the day when we got our first cellphone? Kurczy makes a good case against its use. He quotes a 2017 study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research about the negative side effects of the use of smartphones in schools: "The devices cause a 'brain drain,' diminishing 'learning, logical reasoning, abstract thought, problem solving, and creativity.'" Something to consider as you send your kids back to school. I received an arc of this work of nonfiction from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. Many thanks for the opportunity. We traveled to the Green Bank area in 2009 and were fascinated by the observatory and found the area breathtakingly beautiful. I can understand the attraction to live there.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Thoughts soon.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lani

    I found this very interesting for the longest time and then I began to get bored with the stories which had not much at all to do with the quiet zone. At chapters 11, 12, and 15, I was horrified at the disgusting animal cruelty and abuse descriptions that come on without warning. Frankly I am appalled and see no reason why this crap needs to be included. I am now quitting this book at the 64% mark. TW: Animal abuse, cruelty (murder)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Priya

    3.5* The concept of voluntarily choosing to remain disconnected from modern technology and communication mechanisms always intrigues me. I love my phone and social media though I like to believe I am not obsessed with either. The author of this book has not had a cell phone for more than a decade! To him, the idea of there being a quiet zone where all electronic devices are banned was like coming across a slice of heaven on earth. Which is why he wanted to know more about the town of Green Bank i 3.5* The concept of voluntarily choosing to remain disconnected from modern technology and communication mechanisms always intrigues me. I love my phone and social media though I like to believe I am not obsessed with either. The author of this book has not had a cell phone for more than a decade! To him, the idea of there being a quiet zone where all electronic devices are banned was like coming across a slice of heaven on earth. Which is why he wanted to know more about the town of Green Bank in Pocahontas county(Appalachia). Home to the largest radio telescope in the world that is focused on detecting signs of life in outer space, the area around the Green Bank radio observatory has to be free of interference from other signals, which is why cell phones, tablets, even wifi is a no no for a radius of 5 km around it. Or at least that's how it is supposed to be. On multiple visits to the town, the author realized that while it was true that the proliferation of electronic devices was lesser than in the outside world this place was not exactly tech free because of the need of the various people living there. While students and businesses need fast internet, emergency services need good cell phone reception and the ski resort that brings in tourists needs to offer wifi to its patrons. All of this has meant that the town and it's residents do have and use devices and technology in their daily lives. That being said, this is a very interesting look at several aspects of a town marked to be a quiet zone. There are a group of people who believe they have EHS or electromagnetic hypersensitivity who have made this place their home and are in a constant tussle with officials and locals who are pushing for more modernization. It has to be said that some of them seem to be paranoid given how they attribute just about everything to emf and demand that even lights not be used when they are around! It's difficult to take such an extreme stance seriously.Given the remoteness of the area, it has in the past attracted several hippie movements and even seen the resurgence of a neo Nazi organization which the town thankfully rose against. The idea that a place not steeped in technology would be a paradise however is challenged by the history of the place and the fact that human beings are the same everywhere with there being pros and cons to everything. While for those of us living in cities, the idea of a digital detox seems like heaven at times, to permanently be denied that which everyone has is a totally different matter. There are checks on the use of electronics and even patrollers for signals but it's a constant struggle of nature and the needs of the radio observatory versus the economy and the needs of the people who live there. Ultimately the question of how much is too much technology can only be determined and controlled by every individual. If we are pragmatic about it we can reap the benefits and still lead a life that isn't dictated by smart devices.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luanne Ollivier

    "What if there was a place where people weren't constantly scrolling? Where forest hikes weren't tainted by a ringtone? Where getting lost meant really getting lost? These questions led me through rugged Appalachian backcountry and into the heart of ... The Quiet Zone." -- Stephen Kurczy. I had watched a news feature about The National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) and was fascinated by the idea that there was a town that was just 'turned off'. By choice? Well, in Green Bank, West Virginia, radio transm "What if there was a place where people weren't constantly scrolling? Where forest hikes weren't tainted by a ringtone? Where getting lost meant really getting lost? These questions led me through rugged Appalachian backcountry and into the heart of ... The Quiet Zone." -- Stephen Kurczy. I had watched a news feature about The National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) and was fascinated by the idea that there was a town that was just 'turned off'. By choice? Well, in Green Bank, West Virginia, radio transmissions are restricted by law "to facilitate scientific research and the gathering of military intelligence." Kurczy spent a lot of time in Green Bank over the course of a couple of years. Rather than just accepting what could be seen on the surface (which the news feature I had watched did), Kurczy took the time to meet and interact with many residents of the Quiet Zone. Those born there, the electrosensitive - those who are escaping radio frequencies for health reasons - and those just looking for a quiet place to live. But is it really quiet? Kurczy's investigation takes an in depth look at Green Bank. What he finds is fascinating, including unsolved deaths, hippies, a nearby Neo-Nazi compound, many opinions … and noise. There's lots of food for thought in The Quiet Zone. I couldn't help but stop and ponder what it would be like to just turn off my devices. To live more 'in the moment'. To be more conscious of the time spent on aimless scrolling. Kurczy himself does not have a cell phone. His reasons are compelling and thought provoking. I enjoyed Kurczy's writing style. This was his debut book and I would happily pick up his next. Here's the ironic bit - I chose to listen the The Quiet Zone - and did so on my iPhone. The reader was Roger Wayne. He has worked as a broadcast journalist in the past and that experience adds much to his reading. His voice is clear, easy to understand, has a nice gravelly undertone and is quite pleasant to listen to. He brings Kuczy's work alive with his pacing, intonation, emphasizing. His reading matched the subject and I felt like I was listening to an investigative show. His presentation easily held my attention.

  8. 5 out of 5

    phil breidenbach

    I was originally drawn to the book because it is about the area surrounding the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. There is a ten mile radius around the radio telescope where Wi-Fi and cell phones aren’t allowed. This radio silence zone is to protect the area from being overwhelmed with radio waves, the very thing the astronomers are studying. Thinking the book would be mostly about radio astronomy and the radio telescope, I requested it from my local library. It does start out with the te I was originally drawn to the book because it is about the area surrounding the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. There is a ten mile radius around the radio telescope where Wi-Fi and cell phones aren’t allowed. This radio silence zone is to protect the area from being overwhelmed with radio waves, the very thing the astronomers are studying. Thinking the book would be mostly about radio astronomy and the radio telescope, I requested it from my local library. It does start out with the telescope and the need for radio silence. It also includes some of the discoveries the telescope made and a bit of its history. It also tells a little about the near-by NSA telescope in Sugar Grove which monitors communication frequencies. They used the Green Bank dish as a cover for many years. Then the book went on to tell more about the community that surrounds it and what the feelings and thoughts of the citizens were about living without internet access or radios for their policemen. The book also tells about some of the people who have gravitated to this area for both the radio silence and the small population. A couple chapters talk about people who are stricken with Electromagnetic Hyper Sensitivity. (EHS) The author is a bit on the wall about whether this is a real or a psychological problem. Over the years the rules about radio silence have slowly eroded. In 2019 they recorded 175 Wi-Fi hotspots in a community with approximately 150 households. It has become an accepted evil, almost everyone has a smart phone. Space X and Amazon have also threatened the observatory with their 1000’s of satellites. You can police (?) the ground but not the skies. Stephen, the author, writes a lot about the need for people to have time without their cell phones and computers. He cites the many awards the kids and young adults of the community have gotten with limited access to the internet. He has written an interesting book which kept me glued to it even if it wasn’t mainly about astronomy. I think it is worth reading and thinking about! Finally, you might remember this from the posters in the 60’s and 70’s. ( You do remember the 60’s & 70’s don’t you?) “Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.” From Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    The Quiet Zone had an interesting concept but struggled to hold my attention. I had no idea this area existed before so it was fascinating to read about all the various groups it has attracted. However, the pacing felt odd and the stories started to get a bit repetitive, leaving me a little bored at times. The second half of the book was much better though! Overall, I learned a few things but it wasn't my favorite and took me a lot longer than usual to read. Thank you to William Morrow for my gif The Quiet Zone had an interesting concept but struggled to hold my attention. I had no idea this area existed before so it was fascinating to read about all the various groups it has attracted. However, the pacing felt odd and the stories started to get a bit repetitive, leaving me a little bored at times. The second half of the book was much better though! Overall, I learned a few things but it wasn't my favorite and took me a lot longer than usual to read. Thank you to William Morrow for my gifted copy!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

    This was a fascinating book full of an area I didn't know about before. I found the stories to be interesting if a bit repetitive. I liked imagining my family there - with the pros and cons of the it. This was a fascinating book full of an area I didn't know about before. I found the stories to be interesting if a bit repetitive. I liked imagining my family there - with the pros and cons of the it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ady

    First, a disclaimer: I received this e-book in advance of publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own opinions. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book. I REALLY liked this book. It is narrative nonfiction and is exceptionally well-written. It does go on a lot of tangents, but those tangents are organized, and the structure makes sense. There is a LOT going on in this book. Spy organization, invisible illnesses, conspiracy theories, white suprema First, a disclaimer: I received this e-book in advance of publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own opinions. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book. I REALLY liked this book. It is narrative nonfiction and is exceptionally well-written. It does go on a lot of tangents, but those tangents are organized, and the structure makes sense. There is a LOT going on in this book. Spy organization, invisible illnesses, conspiracy theories, white supremacists, hippies, a cult, a famous doctor who is actually a con artist (Patch Adams) … it’s all in here. But they are all connected under the Radio Free zone. I think that one of my favorite aspects of this book is the in depth look from the author at this area. I, like most people, have heard of this area and have even thought about how nice it was pre-cell phone and Wi-Fi and constant connectedness. This author spent a significant amount of time here though. He didn’t just write an article to sell a magazine or newspaper or get a headline. He interjected his own thoughts and experiences into it and really took a hard look at all that is in this area. This is not my normal style of book, but I enjoyed it so much that I want to find more nonfiction of this ilk. CAWPILE Score: NA Star Rating: NA Pages: 336 Read on E-Book

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Cochran

    Kind of repetitive, but very enjoyable. The author goes much deeper than most of the internet articles that have been written about this place. You will walk away understanding three things. 1) The author does not have a cell phone. 2) There is wifi in the Quiet Zone. 3) Nazis won't automatically kill you just because you're in a cave. Very readable, good subject, keeps your attention, doesn't go too deep, and the final sentiments about adopting a pragmatic view towards the encroachment of technol Kind of repetitive, but very enjoyable. The author goes much deeper than most of the internet articles that have been written about this place. You will walk away understanding three things. 1) The author does not have a cell phone. 2) There is wifi in the Quiet Zone. 3) Nazis won't automatically kill you just because you're in a cave. Very readable, good subject, keeps your attention, doesn't go too deep, and the final sentiments about adopting a pragmatic view towards the encroachment of technology on the subject's experience of living is a good one. Why don't we just build a giant telescope on the moon? Problem solved.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ejs

    This is a clear, honest record of conversations in a county the size of Rhode Island in West Virginia. It is well researched and a book about various folks living in a Radio-free Quiet Zone (or is it?)due to the Green Bank Observatory - SCIENCE. You read this and make your own decisions about "too much noise" in the world or maybe not. I enjoyed Stephen's writing style and appreciate the research that he put into this book. Well done! This is a clear, honest record of conversations in a county the size of Rhode Island in West Virginia. It is well researched and a book about various folks living in a Radio-free Quiet Zone (or is it?)due to the Green Bank Observatory - SCIENCE. You read this and make your own decisions about "too much noise" in the world or maybe not. I enjoyed Stephen's writing style and appreciate the research that he put into this book. Well done!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ...

    I am homebound with no driver's license, and so my digital life is extensive. I spend much of my time on Instagram, Netflix, Youtube, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks. It is impossible for me to imagine my world today without cell phones, wifi and internet. I think I might love to visit the quiet zone of West Virginia for a week or two, but I could not live there. The Quiet Zone is written by journalist Stephen Kurczy, and tells the story of a 13,000 square mile area where radio silence i I am homebound with no driver's license, and so my digital life is extensive. I spend much of my time on Instagram, Netflix, Youtube, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks. It is impossible for me to imagine my world today without cell phones, wifi and internet. I think I might love to visit the quiet zone of West Virginia for a week or two, but I could not live there. The Quiet Zone is written by journalist Stephen Kurczy, and tells the story of a 13,000 square mile area where radio silence is written into the law. The area houses the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope which only works if there is no radio interference. To protect the equipment and enforce the quiet, in 1958 the federal government established the National Radio Quiet Zone, and the state enacted similar laws. The author interviewed many who live in the town, some of the scientists who work with the equipment, politicians, lawmakers and more. He put together an intriguing story about what life is like in this part of the USA, and how much it differs from life in other areas. This is a place where people depend on land lines, phone booths and old-school home radios. They have computers but the broadband is sluggish and they do not have the power to stream. An interesting part of the story is that of the people who are attracted to the area, believing it provides a digital detox, and a refuge from something they call electromagnet hypersensitivity. The latter is controversial and modern, western medicine doesn't recognize it. However, their stories were fascinating. I do think the book is lacking in one area. Very little is said about the Observatory. I would have liked to know more about its function and importance. After reading this book, I find it very ironic that I am using my super-speedy WiFi on my Macbook Pro, Googling little facts to remind myself of content, and using my bluetooth earbuds to listen to notes I recorded for myself, all while answering texts from my son... This is my life, and it is nothing like theirs in the Quiet Zone.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan Curiosity Hour

    This book really should become its own multi-episode podcast or some type of TV series (reality TV or fictionalized drama based upon book). There are so many people in this that seem as if Hollywood created them because of the wide range of personalities and backgrounds. He does such a wonderful job of demystifying Green Bank, WV and in each new person the reader gets to know and in each new anecdote of research/history that Stephen describes, it makes Green Bank more nuanced and complex. I love This book really should become its own multi-episode podcast or some type of TV series (reality TV or fictionalized drama based upon book). There are so many people in this that seem as if Hollywood created them because of the wide range of personalities and backgrounds. He does such a wonderful job of demystifying Green Bank, WV and in each new person the reader gets to know and in each new anecdote of research/history that Stephen describes, it makes Green Bank more nuanced and complex. I love the juxtaposition of the myth of the place with the reality of what it is really like. There are many journalists who travel to Green Bank for a day and cover the myth as they don't know better. Stephen's multi-year journey and hard work really paid off in getting beneath the surface and into the very real human lives of those in the area. Definitely read the Patch Adams section. Wow! I had no idea. We interviewed Stephen for the The Curiosity Hour Podcast (episode 196) and he talked about his three-year journey to thoroughly research and write this book. He described many of the compelling people he met (and also some of the scary ones!) https://soundcloud.com/thecuriosityho... (also available free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Soundcloud, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Podbean, Overcast, PlayerFM, Castbox, and Pocket Casts). Note: I voluntarily requested, read, and reviewed this book. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sending me a temporary digital advance reading copy/advance review (ARC) galley of this book in exchange for an honest review. As always, my opinions are my own and do not represent my co-host or the podcast. I request, read, and review many books prior to publication to explore possible future guests for the podcast. I wish we could interview the author of every one of these books because I'm so impressed by the creativity, thoughtfulness, and wisdom shared through the temporary books I get through NetGalley.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I love West Virginia in general and this was a deep dive into one of its more fascinating areas. If you liked this, try The Third Rainbow Girl by Emma Copley Eisenberg.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tommy Estlund

    Absolutely fascinating and well written. A very quick read that I would definitely recommend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    This book moved in unexpected directions. A fascinating portrait of a truly unique place. It's hard to believe this town is a short ride from where I grew up! This book moved in unexpected directions. A fascinating portrait of a truly unique place. It's hard to believe this town is a short ride from where I grew up!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Douglas E

    Lots of words about very little The two stars are for the eloquence that the author writes with. But other than that I cannot recommend this book. It starts with a description of a unique area in West Virginia where electronic interference is not allowed because of a large planetary listening display and NSA spy operation. It ends with a rant about the dangers of white supremicists and the Trump administration. The book is disconnected, seems to have no point other than to point out the authors c Lots of words about very little The two stars are for the eloquence that the author writes with. But other than that I cannot recommend this book. It starts with a description of a unique area in West Virginia where electronic interference is not allowed because of a large planetary listening display and NSA spy operation. It ends with a rant about the dangers of white supremicists and the Trump administration. The book is disconnected, seems to have no point other than to point out the authors conflict with today’s technology and generally tries to make a serious cultural problem that his own millennial counterparts have brought on themselves. I’ve been embraceed technology but I’m not a slave to it. See a therapist.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Stefani Wier

    Way way waaaaayyyyy too technical. I expected a good story with something to grab me and it wasn’t there. Very good research but that’s it

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    Even with a personal connection to Green Bank and National Radio Quiet Zone, I found all of the details that the author shared about both the good and bad parts of living in such a isolated place deeply interesting. Are the residents of the NRQZ missing out or are they experiencing something we all may wish for? I’m very thankful there are places that still allow us to disconnect…and truly connect.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. There's a small town in Appalachia where cell phones are banned. WiFi is against the rules. Even radios, light bulbs, and car electronics are policed. It's the very definition of being "off the grid." At least, that's how it's supposed to be in Green Bank, West Virginia. It's located in the National Radio Quiet Zone, due to the presence of a giant radio telescope in the town. Scientists are literally listening to the universe with it, but the signals from cell phones, microwaves, and other commo There's a small town in Appalachia where cell phones are banned. WiFi is against the rules. Even radios, light bulbs, and car electronics are policed. It's the very definition of being "off the grid." At least, that's how it's supposed to be in Green Bank, West Virginia. It's located in the National Radio Quiet Zone, due to the presence of a giant radio telescope in the town. Scientists are literally listening to the universe with it, but the signals from cell phones, microwaves, and other common electronics disturb the research. As part of the Quiet Zone, technically cell phones and WiFi are against the rules for area residents. But, how do you regulate that? The Quiet Zone is more than a book about the town with a telescope. Author Stephen Kurczy examines what drives people to - and from - Green Bank. The nearest Walmart is hours away. The town convenience store boasts that if they don't sell it, you don't need it. Some see it as a way to escape the connected life. After all, no cell phone means not getting work emails or calls past 5 p.m., not having to tell the kids to put their phones away during family meals, and an escape from the "noise" of connected, city life. Some people believe they're "electrosensitive" - meaning they have medical issues caused by exposure to certain light bulbs, WiFi signals, and more. Green Bank is an escape for them. Or is it? Why is the town also a sort of safe haven for the white nationalist movement? Why is it so hard to get medical care? What does the area's most famous resident, Dr. "Patch" Adams - portrayed by Robin Williams in a feature film - say about that? He's been collecting millions of dollars in donations to build a free hospital for years. But where's the hospital? (Spoiler alert: "Patch" Adams is a fraudster and a dick.) How does the town newspaper stay connected to the town when there aren't supposed to be any ways to stay connected? This work on non-fiction really examines what it means to be a "quiet zone" and what it means when all the local teens are still carrying iPhones to class. The neo-Nazi movement has a presence in a town that's supposed to be disconnected from ways to be monitored by the authorities. I found this book fascinating. Even though I'd never want to live in a place as remote as Green Bank, I'm interested in people who do want a life like that, and the rationale behind that desire. Journalist Kurczy immersed himself in the town for years, making many trips between his home in New York City and the isolated Appalachian town. I was immersed in the people who believe the wrong type of light bulb can make them medically ill, and the white nationalists exploring local underground tunnels. I highly recommend this to anyone who wonders what life would be like without 24/7 connectivity, and to anyone who is glad they have that ability to stay in touch and stay connected constantly. FTC disclosure: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara “Small Town Sara Reads”

    Thank you so much William Morrow for sending this to me! ⠀ I don’t usually request non fiction but I just couldn’t resist this one after seeing that title. I’m so glad I ended up reading it. It really was a very well done piece of journalism. Stephen Kurczy is a really good journalist and his writing is immersive and objective all at the same time. I enjoyed the way he was able to weave the story with a personal touch and while still telling us the facts. ⠀ While this wasn’t quite what I had expecte Thank you so much William Morrow for sending this to me! ⠀ I don’t usually request non fiction but I just couldn’t resist this one after seeing that title. I’m so glad I ended up reading it. It really was a very well done piece of journalism. Stephen Kurczy is a really good journalist and his writing is immersive and objective all at the same time. I enjoyed the way he was able to weave the story with a personal touch and while still telling us the facts. ⠀ While this wasn’t quite what I had expected it to be, but of course nothing is ever as it seems on the surface, I still enjoyed it quite a bit. It was interesting reading the history of this small town in West Virginia that has attracted everyone from government scientists to hippies to white supremacists. Green Bank, West Virginia is a small town that attracts all types and it was fascinating to read about them all living side by side. ⠀ This is more of a journalistic history of a town than anything else and while it was fascinating it felt a little dry here and there. I don’t usually read much non fiction so I am no expert but for me it tended to drag here and there. But I was still hooked into learning about this small town. ⠀ If you enjoy non fiction history about small towns or just good journalism I say pick this up! ⠀ TW/CW: talk of and interviews with white supremacists, talk of Timothy McVeigh, talk of hunting, talk of murder, talk of cave exploring, talk of drinking, talk of Trump ⠀

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Rupert

    The "Quiet Zone" is about an area in West Virginia that supposedly does not have cell service or Wi-Fi because it would interfere with the radio telescope at Green Bank Observatory. Because of this supposedly lack of radio interference, people seeking to get away from technology or those who believe they are electrosensitive flock to the area. However, this is a less secure area than it appears that it should be. Stephen Kurczy's book deals also with those living in the area which at one time inc The "Quiet Zone" is about an area in West Virginia that supposedly does not have cell service or Wi-Fi because it would interfere with the radio telescope at Green Bank Observatory. Because of this supposedly lack of radio interference, people seeking to get away from technology or those who believe they are electrosensitive flock to the area. However, this is a less secure area than it appears that it should be. Stephen Kurczy's book deals also with those living in the area which at one time includes a camp of neo-Nazis. His book is a little like Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy". But I enjoyed it even more because I could relate. My family lives in an area of Southern Ohio whose rural areas often do not have cell service or Wi-Fi which was a real disadvantage to school age children doing remote learning during the pandemic. I think many people who can not imagine areas without this technology would learn a lot about how people 'survive' without these conveniences. Not than many of us won't appreciate cell service rather than relie on often inadequate land lines for telephone service. Also the information about the Green Bank Observatory was very interesting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kimberlee (reading.wanderwoman)

    This book was fascinating! It was also much more than I expected it to be. From learning about the quiet zone in Green Bank, West Virginia to the secrets that can be kept in a quiet town. On the outside it seems to be an idyllic place allowing the observatory to use the telescopes without interruption from radio waves and other electronic interruption. Where electrosensitives can go to be (at least) a little further from all the noise and frequencies of smart devices. However, there seems to be This book was fascinating! It was also much more than I expected it to be. From learning about the quiet zone in Green Bank, West Virginia to the secrets that can be kept in a quiet town. On the outside it seems to be an idyllic place allowing the observatory to use the telescopes without interruption from radio waves and other electronic interruption. Where electrosensitives can go to be (at least) a little further from all the noise and frequencies of smart devices. However, there seems to be far more going on in the quiet zone than meets the eye. How disconnected are they? And who else is there? Secret government work? Neo Nazi groups? A place where missing persons are never found? It's a place I'd love to visit, more for the science and astronomy aspect but also because of intrigue. Though after reading this there's a sense of unease and knowing that outsiders aren't always welcome. Or maybe it's that outsiders aren't always welcome to stay long-term. Either way, a fascinating read for my nonfiction fans!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    When I got this book I thought it would be a fascinating sociological view of a community that lived without electronic connections due to the Green Bank Observatory located there necessitating radio silence around it. What drew me in was to understand the people who would choose to live without WiFi and iPads and cell phones; their motivations, their aspirations, their daily lives. What the book really became is the telling of the author's interactions with the folks who inhabit Pocahontas Coun When I got this book I thought it would be a fascinating sociological view of a community that lived without electronic connections due to the Green Bank Observatory located there necessitating radio silence around it. What drew me in was to understand the people who would choose to live without WiFi and iPads and cell phones; their motivations, their aspirations, their daily lives. What the book really became is the telling of the author's interactions with the folks who inhabit Pocahontas County in Appalachia. They are an interesting bunch of astronomy scientists, government spies, white supremacists and Neo-Nazis, hippies, sex cult members, electrosensitives along with a number of unsolved murder cases. It's actually a slightly bizarre telling but interesting. It wasn't what I expected but my rating should more reflect what the author wrote and his body of research that went into it. For that I'll give it 4 stars.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Archer

    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 w 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    James Easterson

    Through most of the book, even though it was well researched and the stories should have drawn me in, it didn’t. Toward the last half of the book it finally did. Not sure why, but it did. I disagree with others about focusing on too many oddball groups or individuals, so many people, your neighbors and friends could fall under that category if you bothered to really get to know them or they willingly opened up to you. Their stories are those of real people. As it has been said, “Normal is just a Through most of the book, even though it was well researched and the stories should have drawn me in, it didn’t. Toward the last half of the book it finally did. Not sure why, but it did. I disagree with others about focusing on too many oddball groups or individuals, so many people, your neighbors and friends could fall under that category if you bothered to really get to know them or they willingly opened up to you. Their stories are those of real people. As it has been said, “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine dear!” Perhaps that’s true. So, value people for who they are, but always seek what is true and real, and try and make the world a better place.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This was an audiobook with an excellent reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The author explored the various people who were attracted to this remote area which originally, since the building of the radio telescope, had a radius of several in which cell phones and wifi were not allowed. Of course, it gradually filled with those very things, but even then it was a quite remote area in West Virginia which was discovered and inhabited by neo-nazis, “electrosensitives” (people who believed they we This was an audiobook with an excellent reader. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The author explored the various people who were attracted to this remote area which originally, since the building of the radio telescope, had a radius of several in which cell phones and wifi were not allowed. Of course, it gradually filled with those very things, but even then it was a quite remote area in West Virginia which was discovered and inhabited by neo-nazis, “electrosensitives” (people who believed they were being harmed by cell phones, wifi, and electronics in general) and of course, the inhabitants who had lived there for years. I found myself fascinated by their story.

  30. 5 out of 5

    RaeAnna Rekemeyer

    Over the years, people, from hippies to electromagnetic hypersensitives to neo-Nazis and everything in between have gravitated to Green Banks, West Virginia for the National Quiet Zone, a seemingly idyllic space in the world where radio emitting technology is illegal and nature abounds. Stephen Kurczy an outspoken non-cell phone owner embraces the area and all it has to offer to tell a bigger story than he first imagined.   https://onthebl.org/2021/09/14/stephe... Over the years, people, from hippies to electromagnetic hypersensitives to neo-Nazis and everything in between have gravitated to Green Banks, West Virginia for the National Quiet Zone, a seemingly idyllic space in the world where radio emitting technology is illegal and nature abounds. Stephen Kurczy an outspoken non-cell phone owner embraces the area and all it has to offer to tell a bigger story than he first imagined.   https://onthebl.org/2021/09/14/stephe...

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