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list price: $22.00
edition:Paperback
category: Science
published: Jan 2006
pages: 288
ISBN:9780676976465
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada

The Golden Spruce

A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed

by John Vaillant

tagged: natural history, environmentalists & naturalists, forests & rainforests
4 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $22.00
edition:Paperback
category: Science
published: Jan 2006
pages: 288
ISBN:9780676976465
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada
Description

WINNER OF THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

WINNER OF THE PEARSON WRITERS’ TRUST NON-FICTION PRIZE

WINNER OF THE RODERICK HAIG BROWN REGIONAL PRIZE

On a winter night in 1997, a British Columbia timber scout named Grant Hadwin committed an act of shocking violence in the mythic Queen Charlotte Islands. His victim was legendary: a unique 300-year-old Sitka spruce tree, fifty metres tall and covered with luminous golden needles.

In a bizarre environmental protest, Hadwin attacked the tree with a chainsaw. Two days later, it fell, horrifying an entire community. Not only was the golden spruce a scientific marvel and a tourist attraction, it was sacred to the Haida people and beloved by local loggers. Shortly after confessing to the crime, Hadwin disappeared under suspicious circumstances and is missing to this day.

As John Vaillant deftly braids together the strands of this thrilling mystery, he brings to life the ancient beauty of the coastal wilderness, the historical collision of Europeans and the Haida, and the harrowing world of logging—the most dangerous land-based job in North America.

Contributor Notes

John Vaillant has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and Men’s Journal among others. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and children. Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world. His work in this and other fields has taken him to five continents and five oceans. The Golden Spruce is his first book.

Awards
  • , Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award - Non-fiction Book of the Year
  • , Kiriyama Prize for Nonfiction
  • Winner, Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize
  • Winner, Governor General's Literary Award - Nonfiction
Editorial Review

“Balanced and gracefully written. . . .Vaillant explores the subtleties of [Hadwin’s] inner conflicts. . . . Vaillant’s multi-layered book is a rich investigation of all the factors that went into Hadwin’s act of arboreal vandalism.”
Edmonton Journal
“[A] sense of the rank, dark underbelly of the [Queen Charlotte] islands permeates the book, whose engrossing narrative passes through the often lethal life of the logger, to the bloody battles of the Haida and the ravaging of the forest itself by a detached corporate entity unconcerned with the past or future.”
Times Colonist (Victoria)

“A beautifully rendered account of cultural clash and environmental obsession.”
Maclean’s

"A page-turner as dramatic as a novel. . . . The story is as majestic as the golden spruce, and we are fortunate to have a writer of Vaillant’s exceptional skill to tell the tale."
Vancouver Sun
"A scrupulously researched narrative worthy of comparison to Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild."
Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

"Compelling."
Toro
"Vaillant writes eloquently of West Coast rainforests, quirky characters drawn to a dangerous but lucrative life in logging and Hadwin, who disappears into the BC archipelago, presumed dead. We also learn a great deal about forest ecology and the crime of clear-cutting."
Canadian Geographic
"Writing in a vigorous, evocative style, Vaillant portrays the Pacific Northwest as a region of conflict and violence, from the battles between Europeans and Indians over the 18th-century sea otter trade to the hard-bitten, macho milieu of the logging camps, where grisly death is an occupational hazard. It is also, in his telling, a land of virtually infinite natural resources overmatched by an even greater human rapaciousness. . . . Vaillant paints a haunting portrait of man's vexed relationship with nature."
Publishers Weekly

"John Vaillant has written a work that will change how many people think about nature. His story is about one man and one tree, but it is much more than that. Logging is a brutally dangerous profession that owns the dubious distinction of having killed and maimed even more men than commercial fishing. Loggers’ work is both heroic and sad, and only a writer of Vaillant’s skill could capture both aspects of their dying world in such a powerful way."
—Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm
“Compelling. . . . Handily marries reportage with keen historical insight. . . . [Like] Jon Krakauer and Sebastian Junger, Vaillant deftly peels away the surface story to explore the psychology below. . . . An intense mystery and a sweeping history, The Golden Spruce makes for a terrific read.”
—Robert Wiersema, National Post
“Fascinating. . . . Both a gripping wilderness thriller and a sharply focused summary of forest politics, Queen Charlotte Islands history, and Pacific Northwest biology. Essential reading.”
The Georgia Straight
“Vaillant writes eloquently of West Coast rainforests, quirky characters drawn to a dangerous but lucrative life in logging and Hadwin, who disappears into the BC archipelago, presumed dead. We also learn a great deal about forest ecology and crime of clear-cutting.”
Canadian Geographic
“In rich, painterly prose, [Vaillant] evokes the lush natural world where the golden spruce took root and thrived, the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest. . . . Vaillant is absolutely spellbinding when conjuring up the world of the golden spruce. His descriptions of the Queen Charlotte Islands, with their misty, murky light and hushed, cathedral-like forests, are haunting, and he does full justice to the noble, towering trees. . . . The chapters on logging, painstakingly researched, make high drama out of the grueling, highly dangerous job of bringing down some of the biggest trees on earth.”
The New York Times

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