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Tree Spiker: From Earth First! to Lowbagging: My Struggles in Radical Environmental Action Hardcover – September 29, 2009

4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Roselle—cofounder of the Rainforest Action Network and Earth First!—offers a memoir of his career in radical activism—from teenage Yippie to career environmentalist, who admits he shares his generation's complicity in creating the mess we are in today and is now fighting against mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. His rollicking adventures make for entertaining reading: he is jailed after hanging an anti–acid rain sign over Mt. Rushmore, helps Woody Harrelson climb the Golden Gate Bridge to protest the redwood logging and spikes trees (a form of protest in which metal spikes are hammered into a tree trunk to make the tree harder to cut down). Did he really throw Abbie Hoffman in a pool in Miami? Did he really discuss the future of Costa Rican rainforests with future president José María Figueres over a bloody steak and a bottle of whiskey? Roselle is more interested in spinning a good yarn than supporting some of his wilder stories. He embraces every stereotype he embodies and celebrates the impact he and his collaborators have had on the past 30 years of environmental policy. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

MIKE ROSELLE is a co-founder of the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network, Earth First!, and the Ruckus Society. He has been featured in numerous magazine articles, news segments, and documentaries. JOSH MAHAN is an environmental journalist and editor.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312556195
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312556198
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,560,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I became acquainted with Mike Roselle more than 20 years ago. But it seems like only yesterday. At the time I had just moved to Oregon and was doing volunteer work for National Audubon. We had begun the first old growth inventory and mapping project on the National Forests, an essential task the feds somehow had neglected -- even as they proceeded to liquidate the last 5-10% of the ancient forests.

I needed some seed money -- at the start of that project -- and Mike stepped up and delivered big time. Soon we were deep into the stand exam data and ortho photos, and within three years had completed the project. The maps we developed were digitalized, and have since become an essential part of the GIS data base. They are used every day by wildlife biologists and conservationists. I want to extend a personal thank you to Mike for being there -- and for answering the call. I would bet that many others have similar stories to tell about him.

I recommend Mike's memoir to everyone who cares about our fragile and increasingly endangered planet. Mike's adventures on behalf of the earth make for excellent reading. It's a rich book, and a page turner. The book fills in many gaps. Mike was personally involved in many of the big battles, from Redwood Summer to the fight to save Cove-Mallard (Idaho's last big roadless area), to the current campaign to stop the mountaintop strip mining in West Virginia. I really like Mike's discussion of tactics versus strategy, and his thoughts about civil disobedience. We are entering desperate times, and as Mike writes, this very desperation can make us very powerful, that is, IF we have the guts to embrace it.

TREE SPIKER is all about courage. My only regret is that the book is too short. Hopefully Mike will add some additional chapters to the next edition.
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Format: Hardcover
Mike Roselle is a co-founder of the San Francisco-based Rainforest Action Network, Earth First!, and the Ruckus Society. Tree Spiker details his life as an environmental activist and outsider agitator. In his acknowledgments, Roselle notes that this book doesn't completely cover the movement or even his memories, but that we should think of it as "a series of campfire tales and late-night bar talk." And that's exactly how it reads: like sitting next to a great storyteller and hearing his fascinating experiences.

Anyone living in the West, or anyone even remotely interested in the environment or environmental groups, should read Tree Spiker. When I looked at the gothic-like cover with spooky trees and horror writing yellow font, I wasn't sure how much I would like it. In college I read Edward Abbey's books and found Hayduke's slovenly sexism and tossing aluminum cans out car windows unattractive, and I figured Roselle would be more of the same. But then I read he spent part of his childhood in Butler County, Kentucky, where a billboard with a picture of three hooded Klansmen burning a cross welcomed people to Klan country. That intrigued me, but Roselle hooked me with:

"I heard a rumor that my father, Stewart Lee, was in town. I hadn't seen him since my step-grandfather chased him out of our house with a pistol he kept for that purpose. The last time I saw him, he was running down South Eighth Street toward the bars on Magnolia Street."

Not surprisingly, Roselle's friends were the few black students brought in to desegregate his high school, and his activism started with protesting the Vietnam War and for legalizing marijuana with some women's liberation and gay rights sprinkled in.
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