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On a bleak winter night in 1997, a British Columbia timber scout named Grant Hadwin committed an act of shocking violence: he destroyed the legendary Golden Spruce of the Queen Charlotte Islands. With its rich colours, towering height and luminous needles, the tree was a scientific marvel, beloved by the local Haida people who believed it sacred. The Golden Spruce tells the story of the sadness which pushed Hadwin to such a desperate act of destruction - a bizarre environmental protest which acts as a metaphor for the challenge the world faces today. But it also raises the question of what then happened to Hadwin, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances and remains missing to this day. Part thrilling mystery, part haunting depiction of the ancient beauty of the coastal wilderness, and part dramatic chronicle of the historical collision of Europeans and the native Haida, The Golden Spruce is a timely portrait of man's troubled relationship with a vanishing world.
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In the tradition of Krakauer's Into the Wild, The Golden Spruce tells an astonishing true story of a furious man's obsessive mission against an industrial juggernaut, the struggle of the Haida people to save their world, and the mysterious golden tree that binds them all together.
When a kayak and camping gear are found on an uninhabited Alaskan island just north of the Canadian border, they re-ignite a mystery surrounding a shocking act of protest that made international news. On a winter night in 1997, a logger-turned-activist named Grant Hadwin plunged into the frigid waters of the Yakoun River in the Queen Charlotte Islands, towing a chainsaw behind him. When he was done, a unique spruce tree -- 50 meters tall and covered with luminous golden needles -- was teetering on its massive stump.
The tree, which baffled scientists, was sacred to the Haida on whose land it had stood for over 300 years. It was also beloved by local loggers who singled it out for protection in the midst of vast clear cuts. Since the 1970s, the mist-shrouded archipelago -- one of the continent's most pristine and vibrant ecosystems -- has been a battleground with government officials and logging companies squaring off against the Haida and environmental groups. The loss of the mythic golden spruce united loggers, natives and environmentalists in sorrow and outrage. But while heroic efforts were made to revive the tree, Grant Hadwin, the tree's confessed killer, disappeared under suspicious circumstances.
John Vaillant's article on the death of the golden spruce was published in 2002 in "The New Yorker, and this book has grown out of it, dramatizing the destruction of a deeply conflicted man and thewilderness he loved; in so doing, it traces the rise, fall and rebirth of the Haida nation, and exposes the logging industry -- the most dangerous land-based job in North America -- from a point of view never explored in contemporary non-fiction.
"To look at this seedling -- if one could see it at all -- and believe that it had every intention of growing into one of the towering columns that blot out so much of the northwestern sky, would have seemed far-fetched at best. In its first year, the infant tree would have been about two inches tall and sporting a half dozen or so pale green needles. It would have been appealing in the same abstract way that baby snapping turtles are, its alien appearance transcended by the universal indicators of wild babyhood: utter helplessness and primordial determination in equal measure. Despite its bristling ruff and a stem as straight as a sunbeam, the seedling was still as vulnerable as a frog's egg; a falling branch, the footstep of a human or an animal -- any number of random occurrences -- could have finished it there and then.
Down there, in the damp darkness of the under story, the sapling's wonderful flaw was a well-kept secret. With each passing year, it dug its roots deeper into the riverbank, strengthening its grip on life and on the land. In spite of the odds, it became one of a handful of young trees that would survive to shoulder their way into the sunlight, competing with giants a dozen feet wide and hundreds of feet tall. In the end, it would be the sun that exposed this tree's secret for all to see and, by the middle of the 1700s, it would have been abundantly clear that something extraordinary was growing on the banks of theYakoun. It was a creature that seemed more at home in a myth or a fairy tale: a spruce tree with golden needles.
--excerpt from The Golden Spruce
John Vaillant has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and Men's Journal among others. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and children. Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world. His work in this and other fields has taken him to five continents and five oceans. The Golden Spruce is his first book.
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Book Description Random House of Canada Ltd. Hardcover. Condition: New. 067697645X New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.1826991
Book Description Random House of Canada Ltd, 2005. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11067697645X
Book Description Random House of Canada Ltd, 2005. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M067697645X
Book Description Condition: New. NEW. Seller Inventory # KENT 72