by John Vaillant

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Review

This is the tragic, tantalizing tale of a tree.  A tree with anomalous golden needles that stood tall, radiant, and robust on the misty edge of British Colombia.  A tree that represented the past as it stood for the future.  A 300 year old Sitka spruce that was shockingly felled in protest - a symbol cut down symbolically.

Vaillant recounts this incredible true story of extreme environmentalism, the clash between cultures and customs, and the bond linking science and spirituality with a vision that can only be realized with boots on the ground.  Much like Kraukaur on Everest, or even Thoreau in his woods, Vaillant lived this story and his passion for it is palpable on every page.  Don't be surprised if while you're reading you smell the sweet sap of a spruce, or hear the violent resound of a chainsaw drowning the sound of the ocean. 

With the Golden Spruce Vaillant has achieved what many have not by remaining apolitical while describing the philosophies of the logging industry and the conservation movement, the clashes that naturally occur between the two, and ultimately the merits of both. 

At once inspirational, at times distressing, this is a story that may change the way you view the natural world.

(The Golden Spruce grew from an essay that Vaillant had published in the New Yorker in 2002 - The Golden Bough: Grant Hadwin got a chainsaw and did something terrible.)

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