- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (June 23, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1596914580
- ISBN-13: 978-1596914582
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,154,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Operation Bite Back: Rod Coronado's War to Save American Wilderness Hardcover – June 23, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Kuipers (Burning Rainbow Farm) reports on eco-tage or eco-sabotage, groups via the story of Rob Coronado, one of the movementÖs most active members. After an early victory sinking whaling ships in Iceland, Coronado mounted a series of actions over the years, breaking into fur farms and animal-testing laboratories, destroying cages and research documents, and often committing arson. The book provides an exhaustive account of RodÖs path through the fringe environmental movement, his evolving political philosophy and his deepening identification with his Yaqui ancestral beliefs, which embrace the environment as an integral element of human life. Simultaneously, it traces how Coronado became isolated and paranoid as the FBI intensified its manhunt and eventually arrested the man they characterized as a terrorist. KuipersÖs fascination for his subject veers dangerously close to awe at times, but he is generally fair in his depiction of the moral ambiguities at the heart of eco-tage and presents the voices of people negatively affected by Coronado. Anyone interested in the extreme edges of the environmental movement will be well served by this account, which throws a light on its often misunderstood philosophy. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“[A] fast and furious trip into the underground of North America's environmental and animal-rights wars... Operation Bite Back is a bracing corrective to the official story, and a fascinating look at the crosscurrents of power, belief, extremism, liberty and opposing views of virtue.” ―Oregonian
“Kuipers delivers a searing narrative on the fringe animal-activist movement. Despite his decades of experience covering the radical environmental movement, the author is careful to remain an objective narrator, presenting much contextual detail and allowing Coronado and his peers' brimming passion to tell the story. A provocative and careful testament to the ever-changing definition of activism.” ―Kirkus, starred review
“Coronado's outlaw adventures for the cause are electrifying, from his covert videotaping of crimes against animals to his fiery destruction of fur farms and research labs, and his spiritual and moral struggles are equally compelling and genuinely instructive. As Kuipers meticulously tracks Coronado's intense commitment to animals and eventual rejection of violence, he illuminates the tenets of deep ecology and animal rights and provides an invaluable history of radical environmentalism, a force that may gain momentum as mainstream society fails to respond to looming crises.” ―Booklist, starred review
“Regardless of how one views Coronado's deeds or crimes, his legend remains intact and it is this rich terrain – as fascinating as it is disturbing – that journalist Dean Kuipers traverses in his new book... In many ways, this book is a breakthrough, for it offers a glimpse into the workings of the ALF and what Kuipers calls "its punk-anarchist sibling," the ELF. The narrative is certainly provocative in this post-9/11 era when society and law enforcement officials have arrived at a different definition of what constitutes domestic terror.” ―Christian Science Monitor
“It has the drama of an adventure story, but Kuipers's tale about the Animal Liberation Front is deadly serious and has serious implications for both animal and human rights. An important book that will appeal to readers interested in environmental and social issues.” ―Library Journal
Top customer reviews
Kudos to Kuipers for digging into this story.
I came across three errors or omissions.
1. USDA Wildlife Services changed its name from Animal Damage Control in the 1990s, not the 1970s.
2. Salmon-poisoning disease actually was being considered and tested as a potential coyote biocontrol agent. I sat in some of the meetings where the results were discussed.
3. When Coronado placed the firebombs on the campus of Utah State University and the USDA Predator Research Center, someone also placed incendiary devices in a USDA rodenticide and predacide depot in Pocatello, ID that same week. These events, and the players, have to be connected.
I do think that there are holes in this book also, but I'm not sure that Ron would let anyone write a book that exposes everything. So, again, as a previous poster wrote, we know more than we did perhaps, but not all.
The reason that I think this book is a must-read is because now we have the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) hanging over the head of any activist in this country.
We now have animal and environmental people being arrested because they sent a fax. And once arrested, they are put in secret prisons, with no chance to communicate to anyone like they could have in a regular prison, ie phone calls, visits, etc. Interestingly, so-called Arab terrorists are in the same type prisons.
This Act, which will be overturned with help from the ACLU and others as it violates freedom of speech, etc., now has led to an animal rights activist being put on the 10 most wanted posters, his face next to Bin-Laden sympathizers, as he is labelled "vegan" as if that was a dirty word.
Shame on Obama for not fixing the mess up Bush left in Homeland Security.
In it, we get to experience a level of complexity of emotion, as well as context, that is largely unavailable anywhere else. I have read Memories of Freedom, the zine written if not exclusively by Rod, then with the assistance of other ALF comrades, and his own zine written during his four-year prison sentence, Strong Hearts, a number of times. So I was already quite familiar with many of the events as described by the actual participant(s). Even so, these descriptions had to necessarily leave out a lot. So instead of the near-fearless bravado of communiques and zines, we see the full anxiety and trepidation experienced by those activists. We find out about how the passion and fury and intimate knowledge that drove Rod to commit these audacious acts also drove him to bouts of recklessness, bouts that could have and sometimes did contribute to his eventual capture by the state.
That’s right. Even the great Rod Coronado, one of the most successful and revered direct action activists of the 20th century, committed serious breaches of security culture. OBB, then, is required reading for anyone interested in using direct action, or in being an ally to those who do. We can all learn a lot from it.
That is not to say Kuipers’ work is not without some serious problems. Journalistic objectivity certainly has its place, but sometimes it’s okay to have a little bias—speaking as a person heavily biased toward life and the continuation of it here on this beautiful little blue gem. In fact, if anything, the author is at times biased against Rod and his partners-in-righteous-crime. He falls over himself a number of times to defend the hideous animal experiments performed by some of Rod’s targets. In true “objective” fashion for a mainstream media journalist (Kuipers, after all, is an editor at the Los Angeles Times), he implies both that the experiments performed actually have application for humans, and that they are intended to and will in actuality help animals. For anyone with half a brain and/or a third of a conscience, this is a nauseating and ludicrous premise.
He makes a number of factual and logical mistakes that only an outsider—and a negligent outsider, at that—could make. These are so numerous and weighty that it almost seems as if they are done to intentionlly discredit a section of the radical environmental and animal movements. For example, he mentions a car bombing done allegedly by the Animal Rights Militia in Britain during the 1980s. He comes out strong against it, saying it is reprehensible violence and “murderous” (44). What he fails to mention until several chapters later is that this car bombing has been widely discredited, and is now believed to have been the work of provocateurs. Convenient ommission. Similarly, he totes the mass media and vivisection industry’s rhetoric in calling the 2008 firebombing of a UC Santa Cruz vivisector’s front porch “attempted murder.” Something tells me if those responsible were attempting to murder the vivisector, they would’ve done a lot more than leave a molotov cocktail on a fire-sprinkler-equipped porch. He brings up the incident in 1987 where, at a Cloverdale, CA sawmill, a tree spike snaps a saw blade and severely injures the mill worker. He does not mention that this tree-spiking was almost undoubtedly not done by an environmentalist, and therefore proper precautions were not taken. Another convenient ommission used to discredit eco-radicals. He calls Murray Bookchin a “green anarchist,” a laughable and foolish claim to anyone in the know. Additionally, he revels in the fact that he’s witnessed Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society chowing down on steak a number of times. Yet these days the lovably rotund Watson travels around the world heavily (no pun intended, ha!) promoting veganism for environmental reasons, and all current signs strongly suggest Watson now maintains a vegan diet. Clearly Kuipers’ is speaking from very outdated experience here.
Despite these serious problems, Operation Bite Back is overall a very well-researched project. It contains a bevy of information that is both interesting and very useful to all in the radical environmental or animal liberation community. Read it with a dash of proverbial salt, but read it nonetheless.
Most recent customer reviews
The book is a must-read for environmental and animal-rights activists.Read more