A Good Forest for Dying: The Tragic Death of a Young Man on the Front Lines of the Environmental Wars

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Early on a September morning in 1998, David “Gypsy” Chain and eight fellow Earth First! activists went into the redwood forests of Scotia, California. Their loosely organized plan to protest the destruction caused by the logging industry almost immediately turned farcically tragic. A. E. Ammons, a logger for Pacific Lumber, confronted the group, threatening them in an obscenity-ridden diatribe: if they didn't leave "I'll make sure I got a tree comin' this way!" The group retreated, moving deeper into the wilderness. A short time later, just as they were attempting to confront the logger yet again, Gypsy was dead, crushed to death by a tree Ammons felled.

A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING traces the long history of bitter clashes between environmental concerns and economic interests in the American West and shows why these tensions came to a head in northern California in the 1990s. It tells the story of how Pacific Lumber, once an environmentally friendly, family-owned business, became part of a conglomerate whose business practices made it a ripe target for environmental activists. But A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING is also the story of Gypsy Chain, a troubled young man raised in a loving family. A social misfit in his small Texas hometown, he died in a faraway forest before he had a chance to come to terms with himself and his family. His mother never lost faith in her sometimes wayward, idealistic son. After his death, and helped by a team of shrewd, leftist lawyers, she mounted a fight for justice in the name of her son and the cause of saving the redwoods.

A balanced, highly readable examination of complex, emotionally charged issues, A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING will appeal to a wide audience. Its insights into the inner workings of the radical environmental movement and its dissection of corporate greed and misdeeds are reminiscent of such provocative exposÚs as A Civil Action and Erin Brockovich. The story of Gypsy’s strange odyssey and the disturbing circumstances of his death–seen primarily through the eyes of his mother–is as powerful and as moving as Jon Krakauer’s classic Into the Wild.

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A GOOD FOREST FOR DYING: The Tragic Death of a Young Man on the Front Lines of the Environmental Wars

User Review  - Kirkus

A Texas journalist assembles and dissects the facts surrounding the 1998 death of David "Gypsy" Chain, an activist killed in California's Humboldt County Redwood forest when a logger felled a tree ... Read full review

Review: A Good Forest for Dying: The Tragic Death of a Young Man on the Front Lines of the Environmental Wars

User Review  - Geun Ho - ISB Lee - Goodreads

I have not encountered biography in quite a long time since I viewed them as a mere interpretation of the authors of well known people. However, this one was somewhat different. The moment I picked ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

PATRICK BEACH is a feature writer for the Austin American-Statesman. He has received awards from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and the Texas Institute of Letters, and was a finalist for the Livingston Award. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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