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


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An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas + American Environmental History (Blackwell Readers in American Social and Cultural History)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Company; 1st edition (September 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933392274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933392271
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation shrimper, began fishing the bays off the Gulf Coast of Texas at the age of eight. By 24 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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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A great read as well as an informative one.
TxLandman
I must admitt, I expected this true story to be a little over my head with all the talk of permits, politics and pollutants, but Diane Wilson can really pull you in.
Pauline T.
There is so much in this book that makes one think, and how often can you say that about a book as enjoyable and easy to read as this one?
Elaine B.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Williams on August 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I opened ths book unenthusiastically, expecting an excess of legal details, numbers, dates, and names which would confuse me. While what I had heard about Diane Wilson certainly sounded like a great story- that of a small-town woman who turns into a national activism- I was doubtful that the book would really draw me in.

Boy was I mistaken! Wilson's writing is colloquial, almost chit-chatty. While sometimes this tone can produce poor writing, in Wilson's case it simply draws us into her personality, sharing details completely relavant to her transformation from a shrimp-farmer to an anti-corporation environmental activist.

This book inspires interest not only in Wilson's personal story, but in the broader context of industrial pollution, corporate whistle-blowers, and how activism can really make a difference.

Wilson had me rooting for her side from page one of this book, and her writing had me enthralled by the end. I highly recommend this book to anyone, even if you are not interested at first glance.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ramona Knutsen on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I started reading this book anticipating that I would have a hard time staying interested. I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised by the way the pages flew by and how easy it was to become engrossed in every single page, in fact it went by too quick and I was very disappointed to finish it so quickly. I am an avid reader and have never read anything like Wilson's book before, it was extremely funny and caught myself laughing out loud more than once or twice!

Diane has an uncanny talent as a storyteller. This is so much more than what I expected, I would highly encourage anyone to read it, it's engrossing, incredibly written and one of the best books I've read this year.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Pauline T. on August 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I must admitt, I expected this true story to be a little over my head with all the talk of permits, politics and pollutants, but Diane Wilson can really pull you in. The book immidiatly caught my attention and wouldn't let my put it down. Living on the Gulf Coast, I did not realize the stronghold that one company can have over a community. Diane has really brought to life the here strugle for clean bays in Texas. A must read for all, especially if you are in a community with chemical plants and refineries.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jack O'Shea on August 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Comes across like a mix of Civil Action, Erin Brocovitch, and Perfect Storm. If you like great, original writing; nervy characters and grassroots politics; and the tang of salt air and shrimp boating, you're in for a treat and an eco-inspriation. Hillary Swank: option this property!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By R. C. Williams on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Reasonably speaking, "Unreasonable Woman" is the most inspiring and inspired book I've read all year.

In this true life story, which represents yet another publishing coup by Vermont independent Chelsea Green Press ([...]), Diane Wilson - working class shrimp boat captain and mother of five - recounts the often-harrowing account of her five year fight to hold corporate polluter Formosa Plastics to a "zero emissions" policy for their insidious (but all too typical) waste disposal methods in Wilson's town of Sea Drift, Texas.

And get this.

Wilson won.

How she defeated the machinations of one of the world' largest and most powerful industrial polluters is the subject of the book, which also offers honest insights into life in a southern seaside working class community from a woman's point of view, a community that I never knew existed (though the EPA ranks it as one of the most polluted counties in the country).

And who out there knows women can captain shrimp boats? Or understands that women actually can play characters other than vamps or victims? I've read books populated with women all my life, but until this real life story, I've never met a woman like Diane Wilson. In a literary world dripping with testosterone, car chases, and gun play, Wilson is no shrinking violet, no damsel in distress.

Exactly the opposite. She intuits her way through what becomes one of the most courageous struggles for justice I've read in a long while, challenging corporate control over our economic and political life with grit, good humor, and vernacular insights that, while uneven in some places, made me laugh and cry and cheer and buy copies of this book for friends and family.
Read more ›
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Terry Mathews on December 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It took me about 2 weeks to read this book. Not because it was that bad . . .but because it was that good.

I wanted to experience every moment as Diane Wilson took on the mighty Formosa plastics giant, fought corruption all the way to Washington, went on hunger strikes, traveled 1/2 way around the world and finally made a significant dent in the pollution that was killing her beloved shrimping waters along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Diane Wilson made a difference. With this book, the world can now read about it . . . from her own pen, not ghost written and packaged for a "target market." Her voice is fresh, raw almost and it grabbed me from page 1 until the epilogue.

Kudos to Wilson. Wish there were more like her.

Enjoy!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on November 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful book, and for two reasons.

One is the language. Ms. Wilson writes as she speaks, as the people of the coast speak. As I spoke for many years. Most people would only see this kind of talk in William Faulkner's writing. He didn't make this form of English up. Thank you Mr. Publisher for not converting it to standard English. This gives a feeling that Ms. Wilson is actually writing this.

Second, is the story itself. This is what it takes, unfortunately, to get our Government to do what it is supposed to be doing. The encouraging point is that this is what one individual, one person can do to make matters better. Ms. Wilson has learned what one person can do. It takes courage, it takes persistence, and it takes a stick through to the end, a dedication that isn't common.

Thank you Ms. Wilson, we need more like you.

I might mention that if you do a Google search on Seadrift, Texas, you get a lot of web sites. None of them mention the polution problems from all the chemical companies.
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