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The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed [Anglais] [Broché]

John Vaillant
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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Description de l'ouvrage

5 juillet 2007

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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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Prologue: Driftwood

Small things are hard to find in Alaska, so when a marine biologist named Scott Walker stumbled across a wrecked kayak on an uninhabited island fifty kilometres north of the Canadian border, he considered himself lucky. The coastal boundary where Alaska and British Columbia meet and overlap is a jagged four-way seam that joins, not just a pair of vast – and vastly different – countries, but two equally large and divergent wildernesses. To the west is the gaping expanse of the North Pacific Ocean, and to the east is the infinity of mountains that forms the heart of what some in the Northwest call Cascadia. The coastline where these worlds meet and bleed into one another is sparsely inhabited and often obscured by fog, the mountains sheared off by low-lying clouds. At sea level, it is a long and convoluted network of deep fjords, narrow channels, and rock-bound islands. It is a world unto itself, separated from the rest of North America by the Coast Mountains, whose ragged peaks carry snow for most of the year. In some places their westward faces plunge into the sea so abruptly that a boat can be fifteen metres from shore and still have a hundred and fifty metres of water beneath her keel. The region is sporadically patrolled, being governed, for the most part, by seven-metre tides and processions of sub-Arctic storms that spiral down from the Gulf of Alaska to batter the long, tree-stubbled lip of the continent. Even on calm days, the coastline may be shrouded in a veil of mist as three thousand kilometres of uninterrupted Pacific swell pummels itself to vapour against the stubborn shore.

The combination of high winds, frequent fog, and tidal surges that can run over fifteen knots makes this coast a particularly lethal one, and when boats or planes or people go missing here, they are usually gone for good. If they are found, it is often by accident a long time later, and usually in a remote location like Edge Point where Scott Walker anchored his seventeen-foot skiff on a fair June afternoon in 1997 while doing a survey of the local salmon fishery. Edge Point is not so much a beach as an alpine boulder field that, at this point in geologic time, happens to be at sea level. It lies at the southern tip of Mary Island, a low hump of forest and stone that forms one side of a rocky, tide-scoured channel called Danger Passage; the nearest land is Danger Island, and neither place was idly named.

Like much of the Northwest Coast, Edge Point is strewn with driftwood logs and whole trees that may be a metre and a half in diameter and stacked twenty deep. Burnished to silver, this mass of wood, much of which has broken loose from log booms and transport barges, lies heaped as high as polar winds and Pacific waves can possibly throw it. Even if a man-made object should make it ashore here in one piece, it won’t last long after it arrives; within the course of a few tide cycles, it will be hammered to pieces between the heaving logs and the immovable boulders beneath them. In the case of a fibreglass boat – such as a kayak – the destruction is usually so complete that it makes the craft hard to recognize, much less find. When a fibreglass yacht was found in a location similar to Edge Point three years after it had disappeared without issuing a distress signal, the largest surviving piece was half a metre long and that was only because it had been blown up into the bushes; the rest of the sixty-foot sloop had been reduced to fragments the size of playing cards. This is why Scott Walker considered himself fortunate: he wasn’t too late; parts of the kayak might still be salvageable.

The beaches here serve as a random archive of human endeavour where a mahogany door from a fishing boat, the remains of a World War II airplane, and a piece from a fallen satellite are all equally plausible finds. Each artifact carries with it a story, though the context rarely allows for a happy ending; in most cases, it is only the scavenger who benefits. Scott Walker has been scavenging things that others have lost here for more than twenty-five years, and he has acquired an informal expertise in the forensics of flotsam and jetsam. If the found object is potentially useful or sufficiently interesting, and if it is small enough to lift, the beachcomber’s code will apply. Walker was abiding by this code when he happened upon the broken kayak and began tearing it apart for the stainless steel hardware.

But when Walker lifted his head from his work he noticed some things that gave him pause. Strewn farther down the tide line were personal effects: a raincoat, a backpack, an axe – and it was then that it occurred to him that his prize might not have simply washed off some beach or boat dock down the coast. The more he noticed – a cookstove, a shaving kit, a life jacket – the narrower the gap between his own good luck and someone else’s misfortune became. This wasn’t shaping up to be a clean find. Walker deduced from the heavier objects’ position lower down in the intertidal zone that the kayak had washed ashore and broken up on a low tide. The lighter objects, including large pieces of the kayak itself, had been carried farther up the beach by subsequent high tides and wind, and it was these that set off alarm bells in Walker’s head. Despite being wrapped around a log, the sleeping bag was still in near-perfect condition; there were no tears or stains, no fading from the salt and sun; the life jacket, too, looked fresh off the rack. Even the cookstove appeared salvageable; wedged between rocks at the water’s edge, it showed only minor rusting. Winter storm season, the most effective destroyer on the coast, had only just ended, so this wreck had to be recent, thought Walker, perhaps only a couple of weeks old. He debated throwing the stove and sleeping bag into his skiff, but then, after considering some possible accident scenarios and recalculating the uncomfortable distance between a stranger’s horror and his own delight, he decided to leave these things where they lay. Besides, he thought, they might be needed for evidence. No one would miss the stainless steel bolts, though, so he pocketed them and headed down the beach, looking for a body.

Walker never found one, and it was only through the Alaska state troopers in Ketchikan, fifty kilometres to the north, that he learned the story behind his chance discovery. The kayak and its owner, a Canadian timber surveyor and expert woodsman named Grant Hadwin, had been missing – not for weeks, but for months. This man, it seemed, was on the run, wanted for a strange and unprecedented crime. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .

Revue de presse

"In rich, painterly prose, [Vaillant] evokes the lush natural world where the golden spruce took root and thrived, the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest. . . . Vaillant is absolutely spellbinding when conjuring up the world of the golden spruce. His descriptions of the Queen Charlotte Islands, with their misty, murky light and hushed, cathedral-like forests, are haunting, and he does full justice to the noble, towering trees. . . . The chapters on logging, painstakingly researched, make high drama out of the grueling, highly dangerous job of bringing down some of the biggest trees on earth." (New York Times)

"Writing in a vigorous, evocative style, Vaillant portrays the Pacific Northwest as a region of conflict and violence, from the battles between Europeans and Indians over the 18th-century sea otter trade to the hard-bitten, macho milieu of the logging camps, where grisly death is an occupational hazard. It is also, in his telling, a land of virtually infinite natural resources overmatched by an even greater human rapaciousness. . . . Vaillant paints a haunting portrait of man's vexed relationship with nature." (Publishers Weekly)

"John Vaillant has written a work that will change how many people think about nature" (Sebastian Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm")

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 336 pages
  • Editeur : Arrow (5 juillet 2007)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0099515792
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099515791
  • Dimensions du produit: 2,3 x 12,5 x 19 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 61.834 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 A mythic tree in the Canadian Galapagos 31 août 2005
Par Bert Ruiz
Format:Relié
This meticulously researched narrative is about a mythic tree in the Canadian Galapagos. Author John Vaillant explains how the Golden Spruce and Grant Hadwin...the immensely talented but deeply troubled frontiersman who cut it down in an act of protest against over logging were...one in a billion.
Vaillant is a majestic writer. His historical description of Canada's Northwest Coastal forest in British Columbia is superb. The author carefully details how the Northwest forests support more living tissue, by weight, than an other eco system, including the Equatorial jungle. He also reports how the Queen Charlotte Islands were the historical territory of the Haida People, who call their home Haida Gwaii. The Haida People knew the Golden Spruce was exceptional and called it "K'iid K'iyaas" for the Elder Spruce Tree.
The woodcutter has been the point man for Western civilization. Some loggers are good, considerate road builders. Others were wasteful and raped the earth. Grant Hadwin was a rugged woodcutter and road builder who detested the giant corporations that destroyed vast forests with little concern for fundamental environmental considerations. Unfortunately, he becomes mentally unglued and commits a great crime. Recommended.
Bert Ruiz
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Amazon.com: 4.4 étoiles sur 5  94 commentaires
70 internautes sur 72 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Commercialism, history, ancestory, politics, science, everything 25 juillet 2005
Par Jessica Lux - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
The most obvious comparison to Vaillant's work is that of Jon Kraukauer. Both have chronicled superhumans in the wild, putting their main characters within the scientific, evironmental, and political context of the day.

This is a book about so many things--the natural history of British Columbia and the offshore islands, the heritage of the Haida and other island British Columbian tribes, the lives of the courageous men who felled trees for logging companies in the 1900's, and the life of logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin, who felled a magnificent and one-of-a-kind-tree. Vaillant weaves a compelling tale of the formation of the islands and the native tribes, who first gained wealth trading sea otter pellets with the Europeans. When that business dried up, there were tough times until the logging business picked up. One tree, the Golden Spruce of myth and legend, was spared by the logging conglomerates as a publicity stunt, until Hadwin came along.

Vaillant sets up the story well, priming the reader with history and science until Hadwin comes into the picture. I only have two criticisms of the book. (1) Hadwin is kind of "snuck in" to the story. Vaillant speaks of Hadwin's uncle Angus and then brings Hadwin in without introducing him as the man the Golden Spruce story is about. Unless the reader read the inner jacket, they have no idea why they are reading about this Hadwin (or Angus) character for so long. (2) There are no pictures of the mythical Golden Spruce, other than the cover shot, which looks to be altered so that it stands out more than the other green trees. I'm not even sure if the cover shot is genuine or an artist's rendition. The description of the Golden Spruce once felled is amazing, and I was dismayed that they didn't include a picture of it after it was felled.

I learned a lot about the history of the logging industry and the super-men who work felling trees. This is not a job for ordinary men. I also learned about the necessity of participating in "evil" trades. On p. 49 Vaillant states [of the sea otter pellet trade], "the natives were hostages, first and foremost, of the trade itself: once the market for skins had been created, they really had no choice but to participate. Any village or tribe that didn't would become losers in the inevitable race for new arms, technology, and wealth. Once aboard a juggernaut like this, it appears suicidal to jump off--even if staying on is sure to destroy you in the end." In modern days, the Haida tribal natives found them caught in the search for jobs--the only two available were fisherman or logger. [p. 115] "Many Haida find themselves in a strangely familiar double bind: aid and abet the plundering of their historic homeland, or get left behind."

This is an excellent book that will teach you a lot about science, history, politics, the business of logging, and activism. Any non-fiction lover will appreciate the tale that Vaillant has woven. As a bonus, his prose and metaphors are absolutely beautiful.
31 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 COMPELLING AND VISIONARY 10 mai 2005
Par Salt Lake City Reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
John Vaillant conjures the mystery of the Pacific Northwest coast where hundred-foot waves wash fish into the limbs of trees and diving birds fly underwater, a land where the Haida people collaborate in their own near destruction through exploitation of the otter trade, a place where an indestructible and brilliant logger becomes a zealous, misguided environmentalist. The rainforest is a place of myth and transformation. If you dare to enter, you will be changed. And if you enter the world of this magical book, where trees grow 300 feet tall and live 500 years, you will be transfigured by what you know. John Vaillant has exposed a compelling story, a murder mystery where the victim is a rare spruce with brilliant golden needles. Without sentimentality, with complete reverence for the tree as a tree, Vaillant illuminates the terrible loss, and the deeper loss it represents: the desecration of old growth forests. Mr. Vaillant has done his research and rendered his tale with suspense and energy, with great beauty, in a language that approaches poetry.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Is sometimes the sword mightier than the pen? 11 juillet 2006
Par Simon Cleveland - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
In my opinion John Valliant's book is improperly equated to Krakauer's works. I believe this is done as a marketing effort. The considerable difference is in the main subject of the work - in Krakauer's it's the man, in Valliant's it's the Nature.

This book is a manifesto, a cry for worldwide attention of the destruction forces of human nature, against the mindless consumerism that exterminates the landmarks of the natural world.

I loved this book. I enjoyed reading about the intricacies of a profession, which claims more lives each year than many other high risk jobs. I was captured in the narrative on the delicate nature of this very complex organism - the tree. I was amazed to learn of another miracle of the Earth - the Golden Spruce, this landmark of biology that survived despite all odds. I was saddened to find out of yet another disappearing Indian nation, that of the Haidas.

Beautifully written, containing a wealth of information on an industry I knew little about, it narrates a story about the act of a sick man and his effort to attract worldwide attention to the right issue via the wrong deed. But in the end, the story begs the question - Is sometimes the sword mightier than the pen? You decide, reader.

This book is wonderful and should be on the reading list of all high schools. Young adults must learn about the consequences of logging, the result of defaced lands and their effect on the world's environment.

- by Simon Cleveland
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A mythic tree in the Canadian Galapagos 31 août 2005
Par Bert Ruiz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This entertaining narrative is about a mythic tree in the Canadian Galapagos. Author John Vaillant carefully explains how the Golden Spruce and Grant Hadwin...the immensely talented but deeply troubled frontiersman who cut it down...were both one in a billion.

Vaillant is a majestic writer. His historical description of Canada's Northwest Coastal forest in British Columbia is superb. The author carefully details how the Northwest forests support more living tissue, by weight, than an other eco system, including the Equatorial jungle. He also reports how the Queen Charlotte Islands were the historical territory of the Haida People, who call their home Haida Gwaii. The Haida People knew the Golden Spruce was exceptional and called it "K'iid K'iyaas" for the Elder Spruce Tree.

The woodcutter has been the point man for Western civilization. Some loggers are good, considerate road builders. Unfortunately, most loggers are extremely wasteful and rape the earth. Grant Hadwin was a rugged woodcutter and intelligent road builder who detested the giant corporations that destroyed vast forests with little concern for fundamental environmental considerations. Over time Hadwin leaves his wonderful family...becomes mentally unglued...and commits a great crime. Recommended.

Bert Ruiz
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Writer 21 janvier 2006
Par Greta S. Hyland - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
This is an incredibly well written book and I loved it. I have to say that I wish they (publicist or who ever) had not compared John Vaillant to Jon Krakauer because aside from the subjects being something they both would be interested in, they are not comparable in their writing styles and I think it does Vaillant an injustice not to let him stand on his own. I think that if you like Krakauer you might be let down by Vaillant simply because they have different writing styles. John Vaillant is more of a historian; his book is very detailed and technical; whereas Krakauer's writing is much more haunting and emotional and pulls you in the way a novel does. Also, when you buy this book keep in mind that Vaillant goes into a lot of history of the logging industry, the Golden Spruce, and the Haida as well as the story of Grant Hadwin. If you are interested in all of those things you will enjoy this book immensely. On another note, if environmentalists could articulate their cause the way that Vaillant has, more people would be interested and sympathetic to their cause; this book definitely opened my eyes. Although this book is not a novel, it is definitely a tragedy on many fronts; the Greeks would applaud.
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