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on December 15, 1998
If you want to know just how far the conservation movement has come in the US in the last 30 years, read this book. Susan Zakin tells it like it is, not bowing to the PC concerns of her enemies. Detailing the horrid compromising ways of large environmental organizations and government that pushed cutting-edge activists to lead by example in "no compromise in defense of mother earth." Some new age Earth First!ers hate this book. That's a good reason to read it. Great high-powered & entertaining writing style. Well researched. This book will teach, get you pissed off, and push you to become more radical. One of the top conservation books of the last decade.
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on December 8, 1998
Zakin is the Tom Wolfe of the environmental movement, which, contrary to popular opinion, is NOT boring. Zakin shows that the history of the conservation is analogous to America's changing image of itself, a combination of Alexis deTocqueville and The Right Stuff with hiking boots. Funny, vivid, up-close-and-personal portraits of the New West hipsters and the Inside-the-Beltway politicos who use very different methods to do the same thing: fight a beautiful, losing battle to keep fragments of the natural landscape in functioning order. Coyotes gives neophyte and veteran alike a fun ride through the environmental movement's greatest hits, with a terrific biographical section on Edward Abbey, telescoped coverage of everyone from Aldo Leopold to Dave Brower, plus a compelling narrative thread based on the life of the surprisingly intellectual neo-redneck Dave Foreman, a quintessential American. Required reading -- not just for Birkenstock-wearers!
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on February 22, 2004
One half of the content of this book is a worthwile, concise history of the western U.S. wilderness preservation movement covering the last half of the 20th century. It is required reading for anyone with an interest -- or a motive ;>) As for the rest of the content, concerning Zakin's treatment of Foreman and as to her patronizing of Foreman (concerns raised here by previous critics), I don't know. I guess you had to have been there. But Foreman and EarthFirst! are mentioned only briefly before page 186 (of 443) and only so as to frame the history that portends Foreman's founding of EarthFirst! So, I would have to say that this history is relatively unbiased especailly given it's subject. After three years of trying to get the big picture of the entire history of contemporary wilderness advocacy, I have finally found it here. Really worthwile and entertaining.
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on December 12, 1998
This is an excellent journalistic account of the rise of Earth First!, far better than the other attempts at such (e.g. Rik Scarce's _Eco Warriors_). The historical context in which Earth First! was founded, as well as the influences on the group (especially Edward Abbey) are discussed in detail. Susan Zakin also gives the most complete account of the FBI's infiltration of and disruption of Earth First! starting in 1986, which culminated in the arrests of five activists, including EF! founder Dave Foreman, for involvement in a monkeywrenching caper that was set up by an FBI agent provocateur. The influx into the group of newer elements from the West Coast far-left starting in 1987, who soon began heavy criticism of the original Earth First! founders whose views were apparently not politically correct enough, is also covered in detail. Both of these elements (the FBI disruption and the West Coast ultra-left) led to infighting and a split late in 1990, with the original Earth First!ers of the 80's leaving the group and starting new publications and wilderness advocacy groups which have become the cutting edge of the ecology movement today. Earth First! itself survived the split but is now composed mainly of people whose background was in the urban anarchist, homeless and immigrant advocacy, neopagan, and feminist movements rather than in the grassroots conservation movement; thus, it is today a different group both in ideology and tactics than the original Earth First! of the 80's. Zakin does a good job of illustrating this facet of Earth First!'s history.
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on May 11, 2001
I am mentioned in this book as Dave's friend "Mike". I just wish the author had interviewed me, then she would have gotten the story right about Dave's leaving the Marines. When Dave decided the Marines weren't for him, he came back to Albuquerque and called me first. The story in the book and the story of what really happened are different. Similar but different. It makes me wonder about the authenticity of the rest of the book
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on February 6, 2010
Beautifully written history of radical environmentalism. The main characters in the book would be fascinating even in a dry textbook, but when the story is told with the incredible skill and turn of phrase of a writer like Susan Zakin you cannot put down the book.
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on December 17, 2009
It is unfortunate that this is one of the very few sources for events it covers because a good amount of the individuals that this book talks about strongly disagree with the liberties the author takes. There were a number of articles in the Earth First! Journal detailing these issues, not the least of which was a lengthy article written from prison by Mark Davis - a key figure in Coyotes and Town Dogs and a person who the author interviewed as a source for the text. In fact, the author clearly favors Dave Foreman in the text. Foreman was one of the founders of Earth First! who severely fell out of favor with the majority of Earth First!ers right around the time this book went to print and has had nothing to do with Earth First! since. The book is too heavy on charector personality (representing the author's opinions in this case as facts) and too light on factual history, if you ask me.
however, if you are reading for entertainment and not especially interested in truths, this could be read as a fiction novel and enjoyed. it is the only book-source for some of the material it covers and could be used as a starting point for researchers who are looking do understand what did go down with the first generation of Earth First! but if you do read this, strongly question the ways the author characterizes the real people who struggled to protect the Earth in the 1980s.
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on December 29, 2013
Earth First! was the brainchild of a grandstanding blowhard whose sensational posturing quickly got the organization infiltrated by the FB!, which got some sincere people in needless trouble. Then the blowhard moved on, leaving the organization to well meaning but ineffectual ideologues like Judi Bari. The episode was a pointless blot on the conservation movement that ended by benefiting-- the media. For all its eco-rad attitudes, this book is a slick product of the New York publishing establishment-- media first and last.
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on December 25, 2012
Enjoyed this book very much. I remember some of these people and it was great to hear about them. Susan's narrative was compelling!
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on October 1, 2004
Zakin spins an entertaining story of the rise and ultimate fall from grace of one of the most influential environmental organizations of our time. The book emphasis is clearly on Foreman and his cronies and their hard-drinking, take-no-prisoner stand on protecting wilderness. If you're interested in a detailed look inside the personalities that created and shaped Earth First!, then this is your book.
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