Early on a September morning in 1998, David “Gypsy” Chain and eight fellow Earth First! activists went into the redwood forests of Scotia, California. Their loosely organized plan to protest the destruction caused by the logging industry almost immediately turned farcically tragic. A. E. Ammons, a logger for Pacific Lumber, confronted the group, threatening them in an obscenity-ridden diatribe: if they didn’t leave "I’ll make sure I got a tree comin’ this way!" The group retreated, moving deeper into the wilderness. A short time later, just as they were attempting to confront the logger yet again, Gypsy was dead, crushed to death by a tree Ammons felled.
A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING traces the long history of bitter clashes between environmental concerns and economic interests in the American West and shows why these tensions came to a head in northern California in the 1990s. It tells the story of how Pacific Lumber, once an environmentally friendly, family-owned business, became part of a conglomerate whose business practices made it a ripe target for environmental activists. But A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING is also the story of Gypsy Chain, a troubled young man raised in a loving family. A social misfit in his small Texas hometown, he died in a faraway forest before he had a chance to come to terms with himself and his family. His mother never lost faith in her sometimes wayward, idealistic son. After his death, and helped by a team of shrewd, leftist lawyers, she mounted a fight for justice in the name of her son and the cause of saving the redwoods.
A balanced, highly readable examination of complex, emotionally charged issues, A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING will appeal to a wide audience. Its insights into the inner workings of the radical environmental movement and its dissection of corporate greed and misdeeds are reminiscent of such provocative exposés as A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich. The story ofGypsy’s strange odyssey and the disturbing circumstances of his death–seen primarily through the eyes of his mother–is as powerful and as moving as Jon Krakauer’s classic Into the Wild.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Patrick Beach
PATRICK BEACH is a feature writer for the Austin American-Statesman. He has received awards from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and the Texas Institute of Letters, and was a finalist for the Livingston Award. He lives in… More about Patrick Beach
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Published by Doubleday Apr 06, 2004| 304 Pages| 6-1/8 x 9-1/4| ISBN 9780385506182
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"A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING is one of those rare masterworks that seamlessly blends grand stabs of American history with the unforgettable characters at the heart of a breathtaking story. This is a rich, important examination of mammoth twists and turns along the backbone of this nation — and one man’s harrowing, cautionary battle to find himself and find his country. Patrick Beach is a brilliant escort for this thrilling and cautionary journey deep inside the forest — and deep into the soul of the United States of America. He writes with a naturalist’s awe, an historian’s authority and a storyteller’s magic. He has created a work with the majesty and enduring power of the very forest itself." –Bill Minutaglio, author of CITY ON FIRE and FIRST SON: GEORGE W. BUSH AND THE BUSH FAMILY DYNASTY
"A rare combination of dispassionate reporting and thoroughly engaging story-telling. Accounts from the front in the environmental wars don’t get any better than this." –H.W. Brands, author of THE AGE OF GOLD and THE FIRST AMERICAN and the forthcoming LONE STAR NATION
“She sat in her pickup and cried her makeup off.’ In the radiance of a thousand small, unforgettable images like this one, Patrick Beach illuminates the broken humanity of ordinary people trapped on both sides of a lethal logging confrontation. His copious reporting of their narrowing fate, discharged into a spare, but all-seeing narrative, elevates their powerlessness and suffering into an American fable for our times: symptomatic, cautionary, indispensable.” –Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TOM AND HUCK DON’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, coauthor of FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS