Hold on tight as you open the pages of Born Under a Bad Sky and follow journalist Jeffrey St. Clair as he leads you through a landscape of horrors and wonders, scenery all the more strange because the setting is our own bruised world, in our own fraught era.
Enter a world that is part Bosch and part Bierstadt. This is not only a savage philippic against the foulers of Nature's temple, but – and this is where St. Clair worthily follows in the tracks of Stegner and Abbey – an homage to the planet itself. There is beauty as well as horror here.
These urgent dispatches are from the frontlines of the war on the Earth. Gird yourself for a visit to a glowing nuclear plant in the backwoods of North Carolina, to the heart of Cancer Alley where chemical companies hide their toxic enterprise behind the dark veil of Homeland Security, and to the world's most contaminated place, the old H-bomb factory at Hanford, which is leaking radioactive poison into the mighty Columbia River.
With unflinching prose, St. Clair confronts the White Death in Iraq, the environmental legacy of a war that will keep on killing decades after the bombing raids have ended. He conjures up the environmental villains of our time, from familiar demons like James Watt and Dick Cheney to more surprising figures, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (father of the cancer bond) and the Nobel laureate Al Gore, whose pieties on global warming are sponsored by the nuclear power industry. The mainstream environmental movement doesn't escape indictment. Bloated by grants from big foundations, perched in high-rent office towers, leashed to the neoliberal politics of the Democratic Party, the big green groups have largely acquiesced to the crimes against nature that St. Clair so vividly exposes.
All is not lost. From the wreckage of New Orleans to the imperiled canyons of the Colorado, a new green resistance is taking root. The fate of the grizzly and the ancient forests of Oregon hinge on the courage of these green defenders. Born Under a Bad Sky is also a salute to them.
"Movement reporting on a par with Mailer's Armies of the Night"
– Peter Linebaugh, author of Magna Carta Manifesto and The Many-Headed Hydra
"This is what the true West looks like. It's not for the faint of heart."
– Susan Davis, author Spectacular Nature
– Clancy Sigal, author Going Away, screenwriter Frida
"Who else can combine Rachel Carson's wisdom, I.F. Stone's erudition and Edward Abbey's sass?"
– Michael Colby, editor of Broadsides
"The Upton Sinclair of Oregon City."
– Jeff Baker, The Oregonian
"A stunning, passionate book that takes you into the world where nature's beauty is being savaged by the corrupt industrial-political complex."
– Kirkpatrick Sale, author After Eden: The Evolution of Human Domination
"Born Under a Bad Sky provides a sense of hope as an antidote to the despair over what humans have done to the environment."
– Paul Krassner, editor The Realist, author One Hand Jerking
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Award-winning investigative journalist Jeffrey St. Clair is co-editor of CounterPunch and author of 11 books, including the best sellers Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press; Al Gore: A User's Manual; and Five Days That Shook the World. He lives in Oregon City, Oregon.