Speece begins with the battle’s prehistory, describing the rise within the area through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries of a “corporatist” logging trade that was permitted, with encouragement from the California Board of Forestry, to self-regulate reducing practices on privately owned land. Redwood preservation throughout this era most frequently concerned elite teams, akin to San Francisco’s Bohemian Membership, buying groves from timber corporations. The following 4 chapters, which soar to the late twentieth century and the “Redwood Wars” themselves, observe native activists and their two-pronged technique—involving lawsuits and direct motion campaigns—that every one however halted old-growth logging on the North Coast and, in doing so, weakened the corporatist reign over redwoods. The authorized stalemate that resulted, Speece concludes, fostered “the Deal” orchestrated by President Invoice Clinton, which not solely protected the old-growth redwoods of the North Coast’s Headwaters Forest but additionally laid the groundwork for extra safety of endangered landscapes nationwide.
Defending Giants is about greater than environmentalists, nonetheless, and with the intention to give voice to the lumber executives, loggers, and attorneys who additionally function foot troopers on this battle, Speece embraces a various set of historic methodologies. To grasp the grassroots beneath his tall bushes, he scours native newspapers, digs into unprocessed archival materials from North Coast environmental teams, and, maybe most significantly, conducts dozens of oral interviews with activists, timber staff, lumber firm managers, and forest coverage bureaucrats. Speece additionally skillfully navigates a torrent of authorized instances initiated by environmentalists to halt redwood logging, and tracks a variety of timber coverage proposals via the hallways of capitols in each Sacramento and Washington, D.C. Lastly, he rigorously balances his narrative by analyzing the annual reviews of the Pacific Lumber Firm, which owned these redwood forests, of its successor, the Maxxam Company, and of a number of different timber companies from the Pacific Northwest. The end result, which efficiently blends social, political, authorized, and enterprise historical past, will curiosity greater than environmental historians.