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The Legacy of Luna: The Story of a Tree, a Woman and the Struggle to Save the Redwoods Paperback – April 3, 2001

4.3 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A young woman named Julia Butterfly Hill climbed a 200-foot redwood in December 1997. She didn't come down for 738 days. The tree, dubbed Luna, grows in the coastal hills of Northern California, on land owned by the Maxxam Corporation. In 1985 Maxxam acquired the previous landlord, Pacific Lumber, then proceeded to "liquidate its assets" to pay off the debt--in other words, clear-cut the old-growth redwood forest. Environmentalists charged the company with harvesting timber at a nonsustainable level. Earth First! in particular devised tree sit-ins to protest the logging. When Hill arrived on the scene after traveling cross-country on a whim, loggers were preparing to clear-cut the hillside where Luna had been growing for 1,000 years. The Legacy of Luna, part diary, part treatise, and part New Age spiritual journey, is the story of Julia Butterfly Hill's two-year arboreal odyssey.

The daughter of an itinerant preacher, Hill writes of her chance meeting with California logging protesters, the blur of events leading to her ascent of the redwood, and the daily privations of living in the tallest treehouse on earth. She weathers everything from El Niño rainstorms to shock-jock media storms. More frightening are her interactions with the loggers below, who escalate the game of chicken by cutting dangerously close to Luna (eventually succeeding at killing another activist with such tactics). "'You'd better get ready for a bad hair day!'" one logger shouts up, grimly anticipating the illegal helicopter hazing she would soon get. Celebrity environmentalists like Joan Baez and Woody Harrelson stop by, too. The notoriety has, on balance, been good to Hill and her cause. George magazine named her one of the "Ten Most Fascinating People in Politics," Good Housekeeping readers nominated her one of the "Most Admired Women" in 1998, and she was featured in People's "Most Intriguing People of the Year" issue. As a result, more Americans know about controversial forestry practices; it remains to be seen, however, whether public outrage is enough to save California's unprotected and ever-shrinking groves of redwoods. While an agreement allowed Hill to descend from her aerie and Luna to escape the saw, most of the surrounding old-growth forest in the region has been felled or will fall shortly. Still, Hill is optimistic: "Luna is only one tree. We will save her, but we will lose others. The more we stand up and demand change, though, the more things will improve." --Langdon Cook --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In December 1997, Hill (who calls herself Julia Butterfly), 23, climbed 180 feet up a redwood tree she dubbed Luna to protest the logging of northern California's ancient redwood forests. She came down two years and eight days later, after negotiating a largely symbolic deal with Pacific Lumber to preserve Luna and surrounding trees. During her "tree-sit," she lived on a makeshift platform, enduring torrential storms, harassment from loggers, doubt and loneliness. Treeborne, she communicated by cell phone, drew major media attention and received visitors like Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt and Woody Harrelson. Now a hero of the environmental movement, Hill relives her ordeal in a dramatic first-person narrative revealing just how much she saw her protest as a spiritual quest. She prays to the Universal Spirit and preaches unconditional love of all creation. Talking and praying to Luna, she hears the tree's voice speak to her, teaching her to let go, to go with the flow. Her purple-prose epiphanies, mushy New Age ruminations and anthropomorphizing of the tree blunt her story's impact, and her gosh-oh-gee professed reluctance to become a public figure smacks of disingenuousness. Even so, her firsthand expos? of destructive forest practices (only 3% of America's majestic ancient redwood forests remain) is extremely powerful, and her book, a remarkable inspirational document, records a courageous act of civil disobedience that places her squarely in the tradition of Thoreau. Illus. 15-city TV satellite tour; author tour. (Apr.) FYI: Hill has been named one of George magazine's 10 Most Fascinating People in Politics. All of her proceeds from this book will go to the nonprofit Circle of Life Foundation.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 Reprint edition (April 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062516590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062516596
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,396 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ok, ok. Julia Butterfly is now a celebrity in her own right,she's doing the speaking tour, now the book... so watch for the majormotion picture...
...Well, cynics beware! This is a great book, and the integrity, honor, intelligence and love flows from Julia onto the pages and into your heart. I was especially struck by her humanity- no superhero, she speaks freely of her doubt and of her fear. But always you see her courage and depth of commitment. Our country is blessed to have her in our midst at this time... fewer than 1% of our original forests remain in the lower 48 states. It is indeed time to stop, and to use our brains.
The book is a quick read- I finished it in 1 night- but I'm returning to it again and again, like my favorite CD's. I have no illusions though, that this book was written in a fortnight... she was up there for 738 days; plenty of time for writing! (Plus, the negotiations necessary to produce the book in the manner that follows her convictions).
She says what needs to be said- no more, no less. If you are curious about what it's like to sit in a tree for 2 years sustained by the strength of your convictions, get the book. If you can, go see her speak. She's intelligent and articulate.
Julia is a hero, and this is the story of her awakening.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't understand the overly critical reviews here... this in not a text book but story of grit and determination in an age of selfish materialism. Julia Hill writes in the spirit of a young girl with a big story to tell. In an age of self absorbed memoir writing her story stands apart for its focus on something other than herself. I loved hearing of her day to day existence in the tree. I loved how she first went to the forest to pray for direction and purpose. Julia Hill is a listener in a world full of shouters. Her writing style is simple and pure. I predict this book will become a cult classic someday. Her passion alone is enough to sustain the reader to the end.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book and was ordering more copies when I saw Robert Parker's review. I understand his dilemma -- wanting so much to tell the whole story and the feeling of lost opportunity -- but that's not the effect of the book on me. Rather, it engaged me, invited me inward, confronted me. For the first time, I finally understand why I should flip paper over in my computer printer -- it can save a Luna out there. I can now FEEL the connection that no amount of intellectual data would have given me. I needed to fall in love with Julia's Luna, find my own Luna, and embrace it. She writes as a woman writes -- not as a Leopold writes. I truly did grasp the enormity of the support operation. True, not the cold hard facts -- but the IMPRESSION of TREMENDOUS commitment and support by hundreds of people. I've never seen such a long list of acknowledgements! But that support is interwoven into the story like the living twigs that she slipped between her big and second toe to hold her safe on Luna.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Parker's review was only partly right - why expect Julia to be able to write "on Walden Pond" when she's under the daily pressures of the conflict between nature and politics? The book stands up (like Luna), and taken for itself is a testament to personal spiritual and ecological action. Personally, I think the fact that it's an easy read will make it more widely read - and that's not a bad thing. Butterfly is a great inspiration.
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Format: Hardcover
Admittedly, the saga of Julia Butterfly Hill and the Luna Tree-sit is an incredible and inspiring tale. Anyone wanting to gain insight into the mind and motivations of Hill, and to share in her perspective of this 2 year long act of civil disobedience, will certainly want to read "The Legacy of Luna". Beyond these elements however, the book is a great disappointment and fails to live up to the monumental significance of the story it attempts to portray.
As many other reviews attest, "Legacy" is an easy read. I personally finished the book in less than 4 hours. This readability is unfortunately a result of the book's lack of substance and disconnected ramblings. In her rushed effort to complete the book Hill has failed to capture and articulate the genuine spirit of her action, instead providing a mostly dry account of day to day life in the tree mixed with meandering philosophy. By failing to consider the widespread effects and ramifications of the tree-sit - from its context and sometimes controversial influence within the modern environmental movement to the role the action played in effecting the dynamic of government forest policy on a local and national scale - Hill leaves the reader without a definite sense of just what the legacy referred to in the book's title is.
"The Legacy of Luna" also falls short of providing a comprehensive account of the story in its failure to address many significant events and efforts on the ground which directly related to Hill's success. The reader is instead brought along on the journey in the vacuum of isolation that was Hill's two years in Luna.
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