The Last Entry

By Jim Hamilton

The Last Entry is painted in the woodland tones of western North Carolina’s rural mountains—a cultural crossroads of post-modern Appalachia where old-time traditions clash with a rapidly-changing world. Jim Hamilton weaves his expertise of natural history into a story and characters which reflect the region’s burgeoning diversity, its struggles with poverty, and a black-market economy still tied to its land and forests.


Every school kid here in the mountains learns about Daniel Boone—the woodsman, the trapper, the frontier hero. Where I’m from, old-timers still tell lots of stories about him, different stories than the ones in the history books. Daniel Boone didn’t just trade in furs. He was a forager, too; knew every plant and herb in the forest. What can heal you, what can kill you … and what can earn you a dollar.

Ginseng, or ‘seng as they call it here, is a special plant. Only grows in certain places … old, deep hollers where it can hide from man. Some years it’s there, some years it’s not. The Cherokee say you won’t see it if it doesn’t want you to—if you don’t respect its hills and trees. The most valuable roots are just like the old-timers who still hunt them. Wise and wrinkled … with their own stories. This one’s mine.

Written with an authentic voice, readers will feel his knowledge of the forest as they read it and come away with a better understanding of the author’s passion, that of both the natural world and his passion for writing. Jim Hamilton is the real deal. 

Renea Winchester, Author of Outbound Train.


Jim Hamilton is a County Extension Director for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. While originally from a small town in east central Alabama, he’s been huntin’, plantin’, transplanting, consuming, and teaching about ginseng in western North Carolina for the last 10 years. He holds a PhD in Forestry from NC State and is an adjunct professor at Appalachian State University in Boone. Before settling in the mountains in his current position, Jim was a Peace Corps Volunteer, an environmental consultant, an A.M. country music DJ, and a volunteer fireman. While he’s written the requisite number of academic articles published in unreadable journals to warrant his credentials, he’s really just a renaissance redneck who enjoys a good story and being in the woods. The Last Entry is his first novel.

Hamilton’s authentic and vibrant characters jump from the page and you’ll smell the freshly turned loam with every root that’s dug.

Dave Lucey, Owner of Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

Jim Hamilton tells a riveting story about coming of age in the tradition of semi lawless Appalachia. You will root for and ache for these young ‘uns from the depths of your soul.

Radney Foster, Singer/Songwriter and Author of For you to See the Stars.

Every time I think I have a grasp on understanding ginseng as a plant, I realize there is so much more to learn about it. Ginseng can and will constantly surprise you, no matter how much you think you know about it. Western North Carolina is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet, and of all of the important botanicals that grow here, Wild American Ginseng in particular, is truly at the crux of history and culture, market and demand, and the future of an entire species.

-Sara J.
Bat Cave, NC