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Tree Spiker: From Earth First! to Lowbagging: My Struggles in Radical Environmental Action is a fascinating autobiography from the front lines of a radical movement.
Posted September 29, 2013
I couldn't finish this book. I consider myself an environmentalist, but this book seemed to be more of a list of cool stuff Mike Roselle has done, rather than what I was hoping for, which was a more introspective tale of how he went from a young high schooler to Earth First. To be fair, I could only get through the first two or three chapters.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 14, 2009
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Mike Roselle and I have been pals ever since we both found ourselves in Bay Area Earth First! back in 1985. Mike asked me to make a video for Redwood Summer and to organize the official Redwood Summer road show. For all of these years I've followed his amazing series of planet changing campaigns, and I've always been a big admirer of his cleverness, intellectual brilliance, and strategic genius. He's General Roselle of the Timber Wars to me. So when I got his book I devoured it in a day.
First, it is extremely well written. Mike has never been real big on public speaking, leaving the rabble rousing to his cohorts, like fellow co-founder of Earth First! Dave Foreman, so Mike's eloquence might surprise some. Mike has always been a hang out, drink beer and chat behind the scenes kind of guy. Then suddenly, you find him blast out like a bull to shut down logging and mining roads with a couple of friends by doing nonviolent civil disobedience road blockades. Or maybe you might find him crawling around the face of Mt. Rushmore helping his Greenpeace colleagues hang a banner and a gas mask on George Washington.
But there is so much more to this hero of the forests than just in-your-face direct actions. And it does take a book to paint the picture. In fact, my only real complaint is that the book is too short. Although it is sort of written like an autobiography, it's really just a memoir of the high points of his career, a sort of Greatest Hits (to the resource extraction industries). It begins chronologically, but when Mike leaves Wyoming for southern Oregon in 1983, the chronology gets cut-up. The book switches gears and each chapter looks at the history of a different campaign or series of campaigns Mike started or was instrumental in making happen. These chapters are amazingly concise, yet powerfully evocative. When I finished the book, I had the experience of just finishing a whirlwind tour of the world, from reading just a few pages. Mike (and co-author Josh Mahan) are the best Earth First! writers since Ed Abbey. They may even be better than Abbey. This book never gets ponderous or self-indulgent. Every single word matters. Every story counts, just as every remaining stand of Old Growth forests still counts.
This isn't an Earth First! history in any way either. Actually, it's more like being an EF!er. You intermittently drop in on an action or show up at a Round River Rendezvous, but you have no sense of continuity for the movement itself. But this isn't a weakness of the book. There is so much crap that has happened in Earth First! over the last thirty years, that an attempt at comprehensiveness could very easily become tedious. This book is NEVER tedious! I'm sure Mike just thought that material too arcane for the general public.
Ironically, in writing his memoirs, Mike has written a book for right now and for the future. You see, I think Mike wrote this book for us, as a kind of handbook hidden in history. You get deeply into Mike's strategic thinking on each and every campaign he describes, especially as the book wraps up and he takes on the 1999 Seattle WTO occupation and the formation of the Earth Liberation Front. And damn, if Mike's assessments of both of those events isn't full of surprises.
When you put down the book after reading the last pages, I bet you'll have a strong yearning to buy your bus ticket to West Virginia to join up with Mike and his Mob to fight Mountaintop Removal Mining. So what are you wai
Posted December 21, 2009
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