As vividly as Jon Krakauer put readers on Everest, John Vaillant takes us into the heart of North America's last great forest, where trees grow to eighteen feet in diameter, sunlight never touches the ground, and the chainsaws are always at work. When a shattered kayak and camping gear are found on an uninhabited island, they reignite a mystery surrounding a shocking act of protest. Five months earlier, logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin had plunged naked into a river in British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands, towing a chainsaw. When his night's work was done, a unique Sitka spruce, 165 feet tall and covered with luminous golden needles, teetered on its stump. Two days later it fell. The tree, a fascinating puzzle to scientists, was sacred to the Haida, a fierce seafaring tribe based in the Queen Charlottes. Vaillant recounts the bloody history of the Haida and the early fur trade, and provides harrowing details of the logging industry, whose omnivorous violence would claim both Hadwin and the golden spruce.
"A haunting tale of a good man driven mad by environmental devastation [...] [Grant Hadwin's] appalling tree surgery is as vividly wrought as one of Patrick O'Brian's shipboard amputations."
– Frank Clifford
"John Vaillant has written a work that will change how many people think about nature."
– Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm
"Make some more space on the shelf of Essential Northwest Books. John Vaillant has crafted a debut book that is a stunning look at this region's history and environment."
– John Marshall
"This tragic tale goes right to the heart of the conflicts among loggers, native rights activists, and environmentalists, and induces us to more deeply consider the consequences of our habits of destruction."
– Donna Seaman
"Vaillant interlaces a well-reported murder mystery with elegantly spun cultural and native history, conjuring the spooky mood of the Northwest forests with the clarity of David Guterson or Jonathan Raban."
– Bruce Barcott
– William Grimes