Powder Burn

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In October, 1998 an arson caused $12 million in damage at Vail, the country's largest ski area. A shadowy radical environmental group called the Earth Liberation Front claimed credit for what the FBI called the costliest act of ecoterrorism in U.S. history. But as it turns out, credible suspects were everywhere, since Vail was owned by a New York investment firm that had alienated a wide swath of Colorado's high country residents."Who couldn't have done this?" wondered a local sheriff's investigator. More than a ...
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Overview

In October, 1998 an arson caused $12 million in damage at Vail, the country's largest ski area. A shadowy radical environmental group called the Earth Liberation Front claimed credit for what the FBI called the costliest act of ecoterrorism in U.S. history. But as it turns out, credible suspects were everywhere, since Vail was owned by a New York investment firm that had alienated a wide swath of Colorado's high country residents."Who couldn't have done this?" wondered a local sheriff's investigator. More than a clever whodunit, Powder Burn scrapes away the glitz of America's premier ski destination to reveal a cautionary tale about runaway opulance and rapid change in the New West. As the Denver Post put it, "Vail is a microcosm of the disputes over growth raging across the Rockies, and Glick's take on the fire helps to fan the flames." Packed with odd characters and paranoia, with beautiful mountains and despicable actions, Powder Burn is about corporate greed, the environment, a small town and a mysterious unsolved crime. As Vail celebrates its fortieth anniversary with a full season of hoopla and self-promotion, this book makes compelling reading for skiers, true crime enthusiasts, or anyone interested in the environmental, social, and political issues raised by the evolution of the new West.
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Editorial Reviews

Outside Magazine
an alpine Midnight in the Garden of Evil that may infuriate Vail Resorts but will delight anyone who's ever paid $6.50 for a slopeside latte.
Denver Post
Compelling . . . social commentary, an updated version of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle for the recreation-based new West.
Boulder Daily Camera
...a page-turner...
USA Today
an engrossing whodunit...about the still-unsolved arson attack supposed launched by the shadowy eco-terrorist group known as the Earth Liberation Front.
Skiing Magazine
Engrossing, thoroughly researched, take-no-prisoners whodunit on the Vail fires. Vail CEO Adam Aron is furious about this book. Curious?
Chicago Tribune
A savvy, engrossing whodunit...a fascinating social commentary on the disparity between rich and poor, tourists and locals, resort owners and employees.
Boston Globe
Glick ... looks past the snowy peaks and windswept grasslands of our imagined West to reveal a much darker landscape...
Austin Chronicle
A compelling, fast-moving, and eminently readable account of the most notorious act of eco-terrorism this country has ever known.
Don Rogers
Disturbing...A harder-edged look at Vail in the guise of a detective story...[Glick] absolutely pegs the social tensions existing today.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Early on the morning of October 19, 1998, several raging fires caused $12 million in damage to ski lifts and buildings in Vail, Colo. Because construction of a vast new ski area that had been vehemently opposed by environmental groups was slated to begin that very day, arson was immediately suspected, and investigations revealed that the fires had been deliberately set. However, although a radical environmental organization claimed responsibility, the identity of the perpetrators was never discovered, and many local residents--darkly noting that the episode brought Vail's owners some much-needed sympathetic press, as well as insurance money that allowed them to rebuild outdated facilities--continue to believe the resort itself masterminded the event. Though unable to answer the all-important question of "whodunit," Glick, a Newsweek special correspondent for the Rocky Mountain region, provides a fascinating account of the tensions and cultural juxtapositions--sometimes merely odd, sometimes deeply unsettling--that lurk beneath the idyllic, ersatz-Tyrolean surface of America's largest ski resort. Colorado, Glick notes, is populated by a volatile mix of diehard environmentalists and ruthless real estate barons, counterculture ski bums and titans of industry--all of whom coalesce in, and are particularly passionate about, places like Vail. Indeed, federal investigators found themselves confronted with a bewildering proliferation of suspects for the fires: it seemed that everyone within a 50-mile radius of the resort had a serious grudge against its owners, whose corporate HQ was known locally as "the Death Star." Combining solid investigative reporting with engrossing accounts of high-stakes wheeling and dealing and tantalizing glimpses of the glitzy life of the superrich, this is an irresistible story which, in Glick's hands, also reaches provocative conclusions about the more wide-ranging conflicts that beset the so-called New West. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Glick challenges the assumption that the Earth Liberation Front was responsible for the 1998 arson at the Vail ski resort. He points to the numerous other enemies Vail Resorts, Inc. had made, not only among environmentalists, but also among ski bums, disgruntled workers, neighboring towns competing for water, displaced ranchers, and the local population as a whole. Glick is a correspondent for Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586480035
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 1/1/1901
  • Pages: 288
  • Lexile: 1240L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.51 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Prologue: Quaking Aspens xiii
Part I Flashpoint
1 Lynx to the Past 3
2 Pete 'n Earl Went up the Hill 9
3 "The Whole Mountain's on Fire" 19
4 Exploding Peaches 29
5 Spreading Suspicion 35
6 Barbarians at the Slopes 47
7 An Inside Job? 65
Part II Usual--and Unusual--Suspects
8 Bummed-Out Ski Bums 77
9 What about the Little Guy? 89
10 Mink Liberation 95
11 Footprints in the Snow 103
12 Minturn: "We Won't Surrender" 111
13 "No Tenemos Nada" 119
14 I'm the Sheriff Here 125
15 Bunny Huggers Meet the Tree Huggers 135
16 Schussing with the President 141
17 Battle Mountain 157
18 Tequila Stunt Man 167
19 What the Poodles Knew 175
20 The Toniest Resort in the World 183
21 Biggering 189
22 Barking up the Wrong Tree Hugger 195
23 Aspen versus Vail 201
24 Bring On the Batmobile 207
Part III The Next Last Best Place
25 Won't Get Fooled Again? 221
26 The Next Eco-War 227
27 Avenue of the Americas 231
28 On a Mission 235
Epilogue: Who Gets to Decide? 239
Index 259
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 7, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    An Interesting and Thought-Provoking Story of Arson! Powder Burn

    An Interesting and Thought-Provoking Story of Arson!
    Powder Burn is a novel about the arson on Vail Mountain in October 1998. First, it was observed how the commando-like fires were set the same day Vail planned to begin construction of a controversial expansion into federally-owned lands near the resort’s boundaries at the time. Glick takes a look at several suspects and groups, analyzing their motives, potential method of arson, and just how likely it is they did it. He doesn’t miss a detail in the facts, and also gives insights on his own visits to Vail and his observations while in Vail.
    The book has a deep look into the socio-economic theme, tying together all the tensions that existed between the locals of Vail and Vail Associates (VA). Vail began as a mountain for ski bums; but eventually developed an image of prestige, and thus began attracting famous and rich individuals. The middle to low income locals of Vail did not appreciate to see numerous multimillion dollar mansions popping up all over their once-peaceful town.
    I think a major message of the novel is that deep analysis and intense interviewing is necessary to get to the bottom of what was labeled as one of the most costly acts of ecoterrorism in the United States. On the top of the list, throughout the whole novel, were the owners of VA and environmentalist groups.
    I was most interested about Glick’s attention to every detail he observed and discovered through law enforcement. He wouldn’t just say why a group was a suspect of the arson; he would give his own insights about his encounters and interviews with the various groups. He would present the facts and connect them in his own way, but leaving it so the reader could connect the dots as they interpreted themselves.
    I did not like, however, how he analyzed so many groups. There were the big suspects (VA, environmentalists, etc.), but Glick went as far as interviewing groups from somewhat distant counties, which seemed like a bit much. Although they may be under investigation by law enforcement, I felt like mentioning them would have been sufficient – focusing more of the book on details about the environmentalists, VA, and the events surrounding the time that Earth Libertarian Front released took claim for the arson.
    Being an outdoorsman of Colorado, and being a frequent snowboarder, I took particular interest in the story behind the arsons at Vail – a ski resort just a couple hours from my own city. Anyone who skis/snowboards, or considers themselves an outdoorsman, would appreciate the story, as the novel focuses not only on the people, but on the environment around Vail. I would also recommend Into the Wild for anyone who liked this novel, as Into the Wild is the story of a young man who gives up a bright and successful future to become a bum, and make his way to the mountains of Alaska to live in nature and soak up all its beauty – a true outdoorsman.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2002

    A Liberal's Look at the Vail Fires

    I found the book to be interesting because I know the area discussed. It is worth reading. It seems evident that Glick spent a good deal of time researching the book. He seems to have interviewed people on both sides of the issue(s). However, when he presents his findings, he tends to present the 'green' view in a favorable way while presenting the 'corporate' view in an unfavorable light. Additionally, he leaves the impression that the Town of Vail is virtually deserted at times other than ski season. For example, early in the book he terms Vail as a 'ghost town' outside of ski season. My experience is that Vail is a 'happening' town even during the summer, when there are concerts, dance programs, etc. Glick leaves the impression that the people that were involved in any part of the development of Vail Associates/Vail Resorts Inc. are disliked by the townspeople. However, I was vacationing in Vail when a memorial was held for Pete Siebert, one of the founders, and the Ford Amphitheater was packed with townspeople paying their respects.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2000

    Glick is the Dominick Dunne for the Environmental Movement

    I have been a fan of Mr. Glick since he, somewhat involuntarily, began covering the JonBenet Case for Newsweek. I have eagerly anticipated his first full length work in an area more dear to his heart:the environment. It was worth the wait. This is superb storytelling. His facility with prose and his joy of the narrative makes this an excellent read; as taut a storytelling as good fiction. The lack of a convicted suspect makes for the perfect metaphor for the problem of development in the West and, for that matter, the world. There are so many potential culprits that, without a smoking gun, or in this case a can of gasoline, no one stands out. In effect, everyone is guilty in the end because the crime is the circumstances of expansion where everyone is victim and villian. Of course, Vail seems to have suffered the least as Mr. Glick reminds us. There are some delightful anecdotes and some very funny moments. One quote I will put into my own repertoire comes from the snow groomer Rory who, when explaining the problems with too many men and too few women in a resort town, says: ' Here, the odds are good, but the goods are odd.' Only two criticisms, one small the other bigger, and both derive from his years as a journalist. First, he should remember he is writing chapters not articles and most readers will remember what has been said in prior chapters. Second, given the strength of this man's writing, I would hope he could adopt more of a Peter Matheisen(sp?) approach to factual storytelling. I want this man as an environmental advocate not a cautious truthteller. His true convictions do not really emerge until the Epilogue. However, these are minor comments. On with your inquiries Mr. Glick! I rest better tonight knowing you are my watchdog.

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