A sensitive, intelligent review of the ongoing controversy over the logging of the remaining stands of old-growth forest in western Oregon and Washington; by Dietrich, Pulitzer-winning science writer for The Seattle Times. Using the timber town of Forks, Washington, as a primary focal point in the polarized world of environmentalists and the logging industry, Dietrich returns time and again to the stories of individuals involved in and affected by a struggle that has gone on for more than 15 years. Starting with the 1970's research by Eric Forsman and other wildlife biologists into the habitat of the reclusive spotted owl, which led to the discovery that the birds nested almost exclusively in remnants of the towering ``ancient forest,'' the battle lines were drawn. With national environmental and preservation groups at first unwilling to enter the fray, Dietrich explains, it fell to more radical organizations such as Earth First! and the Oregon Natural Resources Defense Council to take action, resulting in on-site demonstrations as well as a number of lawsuits. National publicity led to a groundswell of support for those opposing the clear-cutting of old-growth forests, which, the author says, continued through the 1980's as government agencies dragged their feet in developing an acceptable, long-term management plan. Today, as a result, there's a virtual moratorium on further logging in target areas, with communities like Forks facing an uncertain future and juggling a political hot potato that shows few signs of cooling off in the 90's. Mixing history, anecdote, biography, and poetic description of the battleground: a moving assessment of an ecological dispute with global implications.