A provocative and careful testament to the ever-changing definition of activism.

OPERATION BITE BACK

ROD CORONADO’S WAR TO SAVE AMERICAN WILDERNESS

Los Angeles Times editor Kuipers (Burning Rainbow Farm, 2006, etc.) delivers a searing narrative on the fringe animal-activist movement.

Part deep ecologist, part native spiritualist, part renegade, Rod Coronado found his calling as an activist-saboteur while taking part as a teenager in the much-publicized sinking of two whaling ships in Reykjavik, Iceland. Over the next decade, he would narrow his focus to saving animals bred to slaughter for their fur, targeting hundreds of fur farms and affiliated university labs across the country. In a suspenseful scene that reads like an episode from a mystery novel, the author details how Coronado and his accomplices pulled off a multifaceted raid at Washington State University, where they freed coyotes and mink and destroyed laboratory files. The communiqué he faxed to the Associated Press the following day read, “No industry or individual is safe from the rising tide of fur animal liberation.” With this public, thinly veiled threat, Coronado brought an activist identity to maturity. Suddenly his vehemently nonviolent—though often destructive—trail of sabotage was labeled “terrorism,” and the entire movement was forced to account for his actions, enduring raids by Feds and ire from the fur and medical communities. By 2006, so many activists had been handed harsh sentences for acts of eco-terrorism under the broad prosecutorial reach of the Patriot Act that the animal-rights community dubbed it the “Green Scare.” “Their opponents controlled the conversation by controlling the definition of nonviolence,” writes Kuipers, making a salient point with deep implications in an era of diluted individual rights. 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.

Pub Date: June 23, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59691-458-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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Unsentimental nature writing that sheds as much light on humans as on eels.

THE BOOK OF EELS

OUR ENDURING FASCINATION WITH THE MOST MYSTERIOUS CREATURE IN THE NATURAL WORLD

An account of the mysterious life of eels that also serves as a meditation on consciousness, faith, time, light and darkness, and life and death.

In addition to an intriguing natural history, Swedish journalist Svensson includes a highly personal account of his relationship with his father. The author alternates eel-focused chapters with those about his father, a man obsessed with fishing for this elusive creature. “I can’t recall us ever talking about anything other than eels and how to best catch them, down there by the stream,” he writes. “I can’t remember us speaking at all….Because we were in…a place whose nature was best enjoyed in silence.” Throughout, Svensson, whose beat is not biology but art and culture, fills his account with people: Aristotle, who thought eels emerged live from mud, “like a slithering, enigmatic miracle”; Freud, who as a teenage biologist spent months in Trieste, Italy, peering through a microscope searching vainly for eel testes; Johannes Schmidt, who for two decades tracked thousands of eels, looking for their breeding grounds. After recounting the details of the eel life cycle, the author turns to the eel in literature—e.g., in the Bible, Rachel Carson’s Under the Sea Wind, and Günter Grass’ The Tin Drum—and history. He notes that the Puritans would likely not have survived without eels, and he explores Sweden’s “eel coast” (what it once was and how it has changed), how eel fishing became embroiled in the Northern Irish conflict, and the importance of eel fishing to the Basque separatist movement. The apparent return to life of a dead eel leads Svensson to a consideration of faith and the inherent message of miracles. He warns that if we are to save this fascinating creature from extinction, we must continue to study it. His book is a highly readable place to begin learning.

Unsentimental nature writing that sheds as much light on humans as on eels.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296881-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The book is not entirely negative; final chapters indicate roads of reversal, before it is too late!

SILENT SPRING

It should come as no surprise that the gifted author of The Sea Around Us and its successors can take another branch of science—that phase of biology indicated by the term ecology—and bring it so sharply into focus that any intelligent layman can understand what she is talking about.

Understand, yes, and shudder, for she has drawn a living portrait of what is happening to this balance nature has decreed in the science of life—and what man is doing (and has done) to destroy it and create a science of death. Death to our birds, to fish, to wild creatures of the woods—and, to a degree as yet undetermined, to man himself. World War II hastened the program by releasing lethal chemicals for destruction of insects that threatened man’s health and comfort, vegetation that needed quick disposal. The war against insects had been under way before, but the methods were relatively harmless to other than the insects under attack; the products non-chemical, sometimes even introduction of other insects, enemies of the ones under attack. But with chemicals—increasingly stronger, more potent, more varied, more dangerous—new chain reactions have set in. And ironically, the insects are winning the war, setting up immunities, and re-emerging, their natural enemies destroyed. The peril does not stop here. Waters, even to the underground water tables, are contaminated; soils are poisoned. The birds consume the poisons in their insect and earthworm diet; the cattle, in their fodder; the fish, in the waters and the food those waters provide. And humans? They drink the milk, eat the vegetables, the fish, the poultry. There is enough evidence to point to the far-reaching effects; but this is only the beginning,—in cancer, in liver disorders, in radiation perils…This is the horrifying story. It needed to be told—and by a scientist with a rare gift of communication and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Already the articles taken from the book for publication in The New Yorker are being widely discussed. Book-of-the-Month distribution in October will spread the message yet more widely.

The book is not entirely negative; final chapters indicate roads of reversal, before it is too late!  

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1962

ISBN: 061825305X

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1962

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