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Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth Paperback – April 7, 2011
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In her down-home, sassy style, an environmental activist tells of her latest battles against polluting corporations. Longtime Code Pink activist Wilson's sequel to An Unreasonable Woman: The True Story of Shrimpers, Politics, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas continues the saga of her direct actions against those who raise her ire. Still outraged by the 1984 Bhopal disaster caused by Union Carbide (now a division of Dow Chemical), she chained herself to a 75-foot oxide tower at Dow, where she hung a banner reading "Dow Responsible for Bhopal." Removed and arrested, she writes vividly of her treatment and the grim conditions at the county jail. Out on bond, she headed off in search of Warren Anderson, Union Carbide's chief executive at the time of the Bhopal disaster, first in Vero Beach, FL, and then in Bridgehampton, NY-a largely futile adventure, but one that she relates with great gusto. Wilson also proudly describes her noisy protest at a Texas fundraiser attended by then-Vice President Dick Cheney, where, disguised as a Republican donor, she screamed "Corporate Greed Kills" repeatedly until being thrown out, arrested and jailed. That she has deep skepticism of the EPA's criminal investigators is shown in her rather rambling story of working with whistleblowers who have inside information about hazardous conditions and cover-ups at Formosa Plastics, a local chemical plant. Perhaps her most dramatic public action was her appearance at the Senate hearings where Tony Hayward, then chief executive of BP, was testifying about the Deep Horizon oil spell. She poured a half-gallon of Karo syrup (which resembles crude oil) over herself before being removed and arrested yet again. At the book's end, the author is in Taiwan, attempting to present Code Pink's negative Black Planet Award to the family heading Formosa Plastics. A folksy memoir from a gutsy, determined, well-connected gadfly who can write up a storm when not storming the barricades.
A different kind of political battle inspired change in Diane Wilson, prompting her memoir Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth. Acting as a sequel to Wilson’s previous work, An Unreasonable Woman, this passionate memoir describes how a once-quiet shrimp boat owner and mother living in Texas becomes a true rabble-rouser who’s been jailed over fifty times for her activism. After reading a newspaper article about her area’s toxic waste disposal issues, she set up a meeting with an environmental group. “Things were set in motion and I know people sometimes expect more, but usually the simplest things start a hell storm,” she writes. “A month later the grubby world beyond my bay stomped me into something I had to look up in the dictionary to find out what it was. An environmentalist.” Her subsequent activism, from chaining herself to factory towers to going to jail, only fuel the flame that began with that single moment, that single decision to get involved.
"For my money, Diane Wilson is one of the best Texas writers, with a voice of wild, ringing, hair-raising beauty."--Robert Leleux, Texas Monthly
"When this fiery fisherwoman from small-town Texas with five kids and a high school education takes on the world's most polluting polluters--Formosa, Union Carbide/Dow, BP and, for good measure, Halliburton--watch out! You won't be able to put this one down. Having joined Diane in crashing Congressional hearings, bursting into corporate boardrooms, and shivering in the clinker, I can attest that Diane breaks all molds. She has no fear, knows no bounds, acts with her gut, and lives life with her heart. If that weren't enough, she is one of those rare gems whose writing is as unique and awe-inspiring as her life! Hollywood couldn't come up with a more original, inspirational character, nor could they find a more creative writer to spin her tale."--Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange
"Diane Wilson is a true hero. An outlaw in the Robin Hood tradition, she defies laws that serve modern feudal corporate barons in order to protect the rest of us. Her Diary is the fast-paced story of a most reasonable woman, a true-life odyssey that should be read by everyone who wants to live -- and pass on to our children -- a sane, sustainable, just, and genuinely thriving world."--John Perkins, New York Times bestselling author of Hoodwinked, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, and The Secret History of the American Empire.
"Another ecothriller from the powerhouse Diane Wilson. An unstoppable tale of true bravery. Mesmerizing, inspiring, awesome. I love it. This book will shake the ground beneath your feet."--Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and Pinhook
"Who would have guessed there could ultimately be such sweet joy blossoming from such heartbreaking dishonesty and howling raw pain? The beauty of Diane Wilson's soul will make tears of pride and patriotism spring from your eyes. The beauty of Diane Wilson's soul will give you hope for humanity-even those of you who are not generally disposed toward such dangerous optimisms. She has written another magnificent book."--Rick Bass, author of Nashville Chrome and Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had
"What taboos would you violate to stand up for what you love? Diane Wilson grabs unsuspecting readers from all walks of life by the guts in her sweet Texas lilt. She knows other people's suffering as her own, but she is always fully herself. She strips away the writer's ego and grandiose language to expose extraordinary evil and inspire us to act."--Aquene Freechild, Former U.S. Co-coordinator, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
"Our country's real heroes are ordinary people like Diane Wilson-people willing to to battle the bastards to make a difference. Hers is a story that will make you laugh and make you cry, and even make you act. Diane's dedication is inspirational to all grassroots agitators for justice."--Jim Hightower, national radio commentator and author of The Hightower Lowdown
About the Author
Diane Wilson is an eco-warrior in action. A fourth-generation shrimper, Wilson 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, Wilson insisted the truth be told and that Formosa Plastics stop dumping toxins into the bay.
Since then, she has launched legislative campaigns, demonstrations, and countless hunger strikes to raise awareness for environmental and human rights abuses.
Wilson speaks to the core of courage in each of us that seeks to honor our own moral compass, and act on our convictions. She has been honored with a number of awards for her work, 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, Blue Planet Award and the Bioneers Award.
She is also a co-founder of CODEPINK, the Texas Jail Project, Texas Injured Workers, Injured Workers National Network and continues to lead the fight for social justice.
Derrick Jensen is the prize-winning author of A Language Older than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, Listening to the Land, Strangely Like War, Welcome to the Machine, and Walking on Water. He was one of two finalists for the 2003 J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, which cited The Culture of Make Believe as "a passionate and provocative meditation on the nexus of racism, genocide, environmental destruction and corporate malfeasance, where civilization meets its discontents." He writes for The New York Times Magazine, Audubon, and The Sun Magazine among many others. He is an environmental activist and lives on the coast of northern California.
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Top Customer Reviews
For years I've met fulltime hardcore activists full of powerful and colorful stories that I thought I knew would die with them. Most people are tragically and frustratingly allergic to writing anything down. Wilson is an all-out activist, a Gulf Coast shrimper turned civil resister who has made herself a major thorn in the side of several multinational corporations. She's part Forest Gump, part Erin Brokovich, part Daniel Berrigan, and she has put her stories down on paper. Her book is a guide to becoming a one-person justice movement.
Wilson has not only lived as a shrimper who experienced the arrival of the polluting chemical companies that would kill off the shrimp, but she has put that experience into context -- and I mean context.
So a woman who had struggled to become a shrimper in a man's world became an activist, a resister, a hunger-striker, and an aid to whistleblowers, not to mention an author. Wilson very rapidly developed into the kind of activist who will act immediately upon the wildest idea available. When Union Carbide / Dow was poisoning her corner of Texas, while shortchanging the victims of a disaster the company had caused in India, Wilson scaled a fence, climbed a tower, dropped a banner, and chained herself up. Wilson declared herself an unreasonable woman and announced the need for more of the same. Inevitably, she was involved in launching one of my favorite peace groups, CodePink.
One of Wilson's more entertaining stories involves her sneaking into a fundraiser to protest then-Vice President Dick Cheney. Another is when she decides to sink her boat on top of an illegal discharge pipe, the Coast Guard tries to stop her, and a surprising ally takes her side.Read more ›
Wilson's writing is folksy and funny. Sometimes I found myself marveling at just how she got herself into some of the situations described in the book. She's a lot craftier (in the good sense) than she lets on, which only increases her fundamental charm. Given her relative lack of education, a somewhat economically impoverished upbringing and the odd current calamity, one has to admire the fact that she's standing up proudly, even for those of us who've been blessed with more advantages than she's had. Diane Wilson is a new hero for me - you'll laugh at her chutzpah and humor, gain respect for her achievements and daring.
Don't be put off by the focus on "eco-outlaw" - Wilson is no nutcase, but rather someone appalled at the lack of media coverage and government oversight over ruinous actions and activities, and she feels - quite rightly - that you'd see these situations with the same sort of common sense and compassion she does, if only you knew the truth.
A fine and funny book. I couldn't put it down!
From the islands to the cities, from the ports into the sea. We are strong, we will always be....
Blazing through the wreckage, burning all we see.... The life we lead, committed to be free...
Our union is a fortress! Together we are bound. A common bound in freedom, and in sound!!!
So raise your voices high! For miles around to hear. Let them know, we are drawing near...
Anti-pollution lawsuits, congressional petitions, protests and whatever Diane Wilson-like functions one can mange would be a blessing towards Mother Earth.
"Diary Of An Eco-Outlaw" is of concern to all Americans and to all people on the globe. Diane's often gruff but to the point manner showed her determination when fighting "Golith".
The style often means that her story makes no sense, as she doesn't slow down enough to explain things. That's most evident in the first fourth of this book, where she completely loses her story about Bhopal and Union Carbide. In the second fourth of the book, Wilson she tries to find Union Carbide's retired CEO, Warren Anderson. Though the US government supposedly can't find him for extradition, Wilson finds him just fine. In the third part, she talks to whistleblowers from her local Formosa Plastics factory, whose respect for environmental and workplace safety laws seems to be nil. Finally, Wilson engages in political theater against Formosa Plastics, ultimately gallivanting around the globe while breaking the conditions of her bond back in Texas.
Besides the pleasures of the ride, I was struck by the implications of some of her stories. Though I knew Texas was different, I'm still amazed that people dying of cancer in a Texas chemicals plant are afraid of being called a "tree hugger." In fact, it seems they would literally rather die than be called an environmentalist or a union organizer.
A second implication is that Texas prisons seem unconcerned with law, justice, human rights, or even dignity. One might respond that all prisons are dehumanizing, but Wilson has two very pleasant encounters with the jails in the District of Columbia. When I've briefly visited county lockups, they were clean and the staff seemingly professional.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book but not quite as much as the first one - An Unreasonable Woman. Diane Wilson is a true American Hero trying to protect those she loves and the land/sea she lovesPublished 17 months ago by Elizabeth I. Sterner
I think I half decided to read this book out of curiosity...and half out of research (I'm working on a sci-fi book about eco-terrorism/activism). Read morePublished on March 19, 2012 by Strategos
Diane Wilson is inspirational for her ability, long before Occupy-whatever to show that a person can stand up to corporate giants to protect what they believe in. Read morePublished on February 23, 2012 by Gene Bowker
While the message is undoubtedly worthwhile and Wilson's goals laudable, the fact is that the book is so poorly written that it becomes a major effort to finish more than a chapter... Read morePublished on January 9, 2012 by J. Cipriani
Ms Wilson has done a greatr job with this book in describing her transition from a traditional fisherman to a strong voice, promoting the idea of corporate resonsibility in... Read morePublished on October 20, 2011 by Amazon Customer
I will start with full disclosure. I have no idea why I thought I would like to read this book, but I was curious. Read morePublished on October 4, 2011 by Amazon Customer
This book is a tantalizing story of a seemingly normal Texas woman. This book takes you to the front of environmental justice issues. Read morePublished on September 23, 2011 by Frederick S. Goethel
Like other reviewers I really wanted to like this book, I admire the woman and her courage. Her life is a tale of courage. Read morePublished on September 14, 2011 by Vintage PowerReader
I found this book fascinating and a little frightening.
The author, Diane Wilson, writes the way she speaks - in a "folksy" manner that Sarah Palin ("you betcha") is... Read more