Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas

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Overview

When Diane Wilson, fourth-generation shrimp-boat captain and mother of five, learns that she lives in the most polluted county in the United States, she decides to fight back. She launches a campaign against a multibillion-dollar corporation that has been covering up spills, silencing workers, flouting the EPA, and dumping lethal ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride into the bays along her beloved Texas Gulf Coast.

In an epic tale of bravery, Wilson takes her fight to the ...

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An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas

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Overview

When Diane Wilson, fourth-generation shrimp-boat captain and mother of five, learns that she lives in the most polluted county in the United States, she decides to fight back. She launches a campaign against a multibillion-dollar corporation that has been covering up spills, silencing workers, flouting the EPA, and dumping lethal ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride into the bays along her beloved Texas Gulf Coast.

In an epic tale of bravery, Wilson takes her fight to the courts, to the gates of the chemical plant, and to the halls of power in Austin. Along the way she meets with scorn, bribery, character assassination, and death threats. Finally Wilson realizes that she must break the law to win justice: She resorts to nonviolent disobedience, direct action, and hunger strikes. Wilson’s vivid South Texas dialogue resides somewhere between Alice Walker and William Faulkner, and her dazzling prose brings to mind the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, replete with dreams and prophecies

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With the discovery that her "piddlin' little county on the Gulf Coast" led the nation in toxic emissions, shrimper Wilson, a mother of five, found herself embarking on a voyage of discovery and activism that would strain her marriage and stretch her horizons. A David up against big-time chemical Goliaths, Wilson is a gifted storyteller, rendering dialogue and pacing plot turns as a novelist might. Anonymous informants, uncomfortable whistleblowers, unanticipated opposition from civic powers and seductive offers of cash bribes pepper this first-person account of Wilson's attempts to save her hometown. Although there are moments when the trail of meetings, memos and petitions seems drawn out, the tell-everything approach reveals how a woman awed to discover "they can lie on TV news! And it is all right!" can learn to master the media. Wilson's hunger-striking, boat-sinking and pole-climbing-combined with the help of a pro bono lawyer and a Greenpeace activist-ultimately wring a "zero tolerance" agreement out of Formosa Plastics and Dow/Union Carbide. Wilson's book is longer than it needs to be, but her Texas twang is catchy, and often spellbinding, as she goes about her mission, sometimes with a child "by one hand and a handful of documents in the other." (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Wilson's story of greed, politics, polluters, and outright dishonesty is one we have unfortunately heard before: big industry tries to bulldoze through permits, regulations, and environmental and worker safety to arrive at a profit. The Seadrift, TX, native doesn't like it when she reads in the paper that her county has the worst pollution in the nation (this was in 1989). A shrimp boat captain and mother of five, Wilson goes on to discover that a multibillion-dollar corporation, Formosa Plastics, is killing her catch and her friends by dumping toxic chemicals into the bays. And that's not all: agencies that are supposed to watchdog polluters (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency) do not, and politicians who have a responsibility to their constitutents serve the few, often themselves, first. Even friends betray and threaten, yet Wilson takes action, asking questions, studying, following through. Her story is delivered in an affecting, soft-spoken style that pulls readers in. There is more to be learned from this extraordinary woman than how to fight big industry; let her teach you. Highly recommended for all collections, public and academic. [A September BookSense pick; Wilson will be profiled in the October issue of Vanity Fair; see also LJ's Editors' Picks, p. 41.-Ed.]-Nancy Moeckel, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Don't pick this book up if you want to stay in your comfort zone. Diane's journey is a riveting tale of 'Nothing Is As It Appears.' The environmental agencies we're so proud of simply give out permits to polluters, tweaking a detail here and there. With spunk, verve, and humor, Diane faces down her fears. This story will break your heart wide open."--Ellen Augustine Schwartz, author of Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance

Carol Haggas

Booklist-
In the battle to halt the monstrous pollution destroying Texas' Lavaca Bay, it seemed impossible that one little lady could take on a multibillion-dollar international chemical company and win--but win Wilson did. A minimally educated shrimp-boat captain and mother of five, Wilson suffered great personal tragedy, including death threats and divorce, in her frustrating and demoralizing crusade against Formosa Plastic's proposed $1.3 billion expansion of its PVC manufacturing facility in Calhoun County, Texas, already deemed the most toxic district in the country. Armed with nothing more than her deep-seated love for the bay outside her door and an unwavering sense of justice, Wilson almost single-handedly set out to reveal the environmental destruction, worker intimidation, legal machinations, and political manipulation that epitomized Formosa's ruthless business practices. With unbridled passion, Wilson renders her "Diane-versus-Goliath" confrontation in honest and unadorned prose, liberally and gracefully lacing it with passages of heartbreaking lyricism and provocative wisdom that reveal the depth of her commitment. Few people in this world deserve to be called heroes; Wilson assuredly is one of them.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933392271
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Pages: 391
  • Product dimensions: 5.86 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper, began fishing the bays off the Gulf Coast of Texas at the age of eight. By twenty-four she was a boat captain. In 1989, while running her brother's fish house at the docks and mending nets, she read a newspaper article that listed her home of Calhoun County as the number one toxic polluter in the country. She set up a meeting in the town hall to discuss what the chemical plants were doing to the bays and thus began her life as an environmental activist. Threatened by thugs and despised by her neighbors, Diane insisted the truth be told and that Formosa Plastics stop dumping toxins into the bay.

Her work on behalf of the people and aquatic life of Seadrift, Texas, has won her a number of awards including: National Fisherman Magazine Award, Mother Jones's Hell Raiser of the Month, Louis Gibbs' Environmental Lifetime Award, Louisiana Environmental Action (LEAN) Environmental Award, Giraffe Project, Jenifer Altman Award, and the Bioneers Award. She is co-founder of Code Pink and continues to lead the fight for social justice.

An Unreasonable Woman is Diane's first book

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Table of Contents

Foreword 9
Prologue: Sabotage 15
Part 1
1 Dirty Secrets Revealed 31
2 A Shrimping Career Rehashed 45
3 An Outlaw and a Letter 60
4 Adversaries Approach 70
5 Of Fishermen and Politicos 81
6 Knocked Clean out of the Ring 91
7 Negotiating with the Enemy 102
8 The Press Arrives to Liars and Fools 113
9 Texas Water Commission Files 124
Part 2
10 Dirty Facts Revealed 135
11 A Dream Is a Dream Come True 149
12 Losses, Gains, and Petitions 156
13 Money, Money, Money 166
14 The Informant 179
15 Battle Lines Are Drawn 193
16 Union Carbide Blows; the Fed Arrives 204
17 We Strike at the Heart of Formosa 218
18 Beauty Queens, Banquets, and Spies 225
19 Raining on the Chairman's Parade 232
20 A Hydrochloric Cloud; a Worker Talks 245
21 Kickbacks Paid; Internal Memos Conveyed 255
22 A Bay under Siege; an Activist Born 266
23 Hunger Strike 276
24 I Strike at the Gates of Hell 287
25 Death Threats and Deals 299
26 Pain and Defeat 313
27 A Woman Enters the Sea 324
Part 3
28 Island of Fire and Solidarity 333
29 A Radicalized Woman 347
30 The Vietnamese Connection 356
31 The Sinking of the SeaBee 367
32 Sanchez Comes Home 374
33 Victory, Redemption, and Loss 384
Epilogue 387
Acknowledgments 390
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2005

    A real-life pot boiler

    Ms Wilson has a Marquez-like writing style that both captivate the reader and punctuates her amazing story. An incredible woman. An incredible act of heroism. An expose that is heart breaking and perhaps hopeful. Bravo this unreasonable woman!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted August 14, 2005

    Incredible woman!

    This woman is truly a 'David' among Goliath's. She is a joy to listen to and such a refreshing person...It is about time that we stand up to Big Business, and she can show us the way! Ms. Wilson is really an inspiration.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 30, 2013

    Starsoul

    Back...sorry wifi has been on and off...)) she snuggles up with Hawkeye...

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

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Rosekit

    Runs past them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2013

    Rosespirit

    Sits down by the stream and waits

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

    Posted April 18, 2013

    Firewing

    He sits down wondering if a mate will someday show up for him.

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

    Posted April 18, 2013

    Tallstar

    Brambleclaw you are wounded. Get to camp. -

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

    Posted December 13, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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