The memoir of a “green” radical.
Now in his mid-50s, Roselle, with the assistance of environmental journalist Mahan, looks back at nearly 30 years of troublemaking as an environmental activist. Coming of age as a hippie, high-school dropout and antiwar protestor—he bounced from his native Louisville to Los Angeles and elsewhere, making ends meet as a house painter, oil-field worker and ski bum—Roselle began his career as an activist in 1980 when he and others, traveling in a VW van, shouted “Hayduke lives!” (a nod to the eco-saboteur in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang) and, then and there, founded the radical group Earth First! From those early days through his work with Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network, which he co-founded, Roselle has been deeply committed to using nonviolent civil disobedience to call attention to and force action on the destruction of wilderness. He recounts his role in blocking bulldozers to halt timber-industry incursions into Western roadless areas and in such iconic actions as hanging protest banners at Mount Rushmore and the Golden Gate Bridge. Disdainful of the Wilderness Society and other mainstream groups “too comfortable and professional” to risk civil disobedience, Roselle argues forcefully that only direct action can spur government to address the “crime” of deforestation. He takes pride in being viewed as a “nonviolent extremist” and contends that stopping climate change will require citizen action to pressure politicians addicted to coal-industry money. At the same time, he lambasts anarchists whose acts of arson and property destruction at such events as the 1999 Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organization reveal a lack of understanding of effective protest. “It takes more courage to sit in front of a bulldozer than to burn one,” he writes. His discussion of the painstaking training required for successful nonviolent activism helps explain why confrontational environmentalism has often proven a significant force.
A colorful account from a highly dedicated activist.