Very interesting book, although I find the subheading “Rod Coronado's War to Save American Wilderness” quite misleading. I guess the “marketing people” thought it sounded better than ‘Rod Coronado inner journey as seen from the outside”… But that is what the book is, and it is an interesting journey that is well told by Dean Kuipers. The book is especially interesting as Dean has followed Rod for a very long time and might actually have a better idea what Rod has been up to and what has shaped him than Rod himself in many cases. In a society obsessed with changes over days, or even hours, a journey over many years is refreshing.
Equally interesting is that we follow a person though a time where the idea of “deep-ecology” begun to move beyond academic papers. During a time where technology existed for the first time in human history that could allow everyone on the planet to live a good life and at the same time society used its tools to create a situation where about one billion is staring and one billion (and growing) is suffering from eating too much (overweight and obesity). Where the need to sacrifice animals is difficult to defend with rational arguments.
A person who in some way becomes a symbol for a larger movement will always be impossible to capture in full as the symbol is given its value though many different interpretations and a certain degree of mystique. Through Deans book we are given the opportunity to almost walk in Rod’s footsteps over a number of years and think about what made him make different choices, but also what it might have looked like from the outside to FBI and others.
What is right and wrong is not directly analyzed in a way that provide any concrete answers, but the book describe many choices both from a direct “result” perspective (often from Rod’s own discussions) as well as the broader strategic choices where the broader trends is discussed though the relation rod have with different groups in society. The fact that the book deals with very controversial issues without simplifying them into black and white
In the book I particularly liked the longer more “boring” parts where Rod is running “away” without a clear target and goal, trying to figure out where to go next. Too often these kinds of books move between actions and sex/personal intimate details and show nothing of the long times in between.
With the current legislation in the US moving into dangerous madness with the “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act”, both the people and structures behind are important to understand.
I this book benefit when read before/after “Green Is the New Red”, by Will Potter, or some other book that look at the process from a broader perspective and not from a single individuals stand point. The book is also a good read before/after watching “If a Tree Falls” that look at the situation from Daniel McGowan’s perspective/situation.
PS I like “If a tree falls” in many ways and I hope it will get an Oscar. But it is not really about the ELF or the radical environmental movement, even if the filmmakers say that. That story is much more complex and require a very different film. This movie is a contribution to a discussion about what drives a person to do certain things, including actions that look like “terrorism” from one perspective and the only option left from another perspective. That is well worth a movie and might even be an important first step before “ordinary” people can understand different reactions against aggressive industrialization.