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The Secret Wars of Judi Bari: A Car Bomb, the Fight for the Redwoods and the End of Earth First! [Hardcover]

Kate Coleman


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Book Description

March 1 2005
In l990, a car bomb in Oakland almost killed radical Earth First! leader Judi Bari and her passenger, a co-leader and onetime lover, Darryl Cherney. The FBI accused the pair of transporting the explosive device knowingly as part of a violent campaign of "ecotage." From her hospital bed, Bari charged that the timber interests of Northern California and the FBI had tried to kill her. The car bomb and the competing conspiracy theories about who was responsible made Bari a national figure; butshe had long been a legendary figure among California activists. A veteran of the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s who moved to militant feminism and environmentalism after the war ended, Bari was involved in the radical eco-organization Earth First! by the mid-1980s and leading the fight against the logging companies on the Northern California coast. Not long before the attempt on her life, she had summoned young people from all over the country to join her in a crusade to save the remaining redwood forests of the Pacific Coast in a "Redwood Summer" based on the Mississippi Summer of the civil rights movement a quarter-century earlier. The Secret Wars of Judi Bari traces Bari's rise from college activist to a would-be Mother Jones of the Redwoods. Drawing on extensive interviews with Bari's friends, comrades and critics, Kate Coleman describes Bari's long struggle for selfhood against her communist parents and her husband (himself a former member of violent political groups); againstthose in her movement who felt that she was not radical enough; and ultimately against the FBI and the State of California. Judi Bari's wars continued until her death from cancer five years after the explosion that changed her life forever. In creating a dramatic portrait of a unique American life, Coleman takes the reader inside the radical politics that outlived the 1960s, and into the Earth First! movement and the back-to-nature counterculture of the North Coast of California. This is a world that Coleman has lived in herself and spent her career documenting as a writer. In The Secret Wars of Judi Bari she has produced a book that is at once a crime story, a social history, and a compelling biography of a woman at war with her world.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (March 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554740
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554740
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 15.9 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,039,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Kate Coleman is a veteran investigative reporter who has covered the Black Panther Party, the counter culture and California politics for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Salon, Mother Jones and other publications.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
TOWARD THE END OF 1989, an idea began percolating in the brain of one of those bushy-chinned visionaries who populate the North Coast of California: to raise a People's Army to save the noble redwoods from the lumber companies' rapacious logging. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
255 of 270 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars compelling! Jan. 29 2005
By Maresa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I felt this was a rich and complete evaluation of the life and struggles of the dedicated environmentalist, Judi Barri.

This book thoughtfully explores the complicated intersection of the personal and political in a wonderfully gripping tale of political activism, passion and crime.
267 of 284 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even the "good guys" are human Jan. 24 2005
By W. Willy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
An excellent job on a tough subject and very readable. This book does a wonderful job detailing the story behind the bombing of Judi Bari and gives a clear picture of a driven environmentalist who was all too human. It is well researched and does a thorough and engaging job of describing Judi and the aspects of the environmental movement with which she was associated. The story is disturbing for those of us who would like to believe that the leaders involved in this movement always approach this cause with impeccable moral integrity. It will also bother those who would prefer to ignore the truth in order to maintain the appearance of infallability and moral righteousness of the participants within the movment. For the rest of us it is a very worthwhile read.
248 of 265 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blinded by the Left Jan. 28 2005
By Hilary Goldstine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Kate Coleman addresses an important left-wing Hero with critical thinking and a willingness to address what really happens behind the scenes of any movement. Much like David Brock's book, "Blinded by the Right", this book addresses what happens when any one of us becomes a "True Believer." Protecting our environment from corporations is truly a mind-boggling job and there are no simple paths. The fact that Judi Bari took this path shows her courage and is deserving of great respect. She, like all of us, had blind spots.

In these Bush times it is extremely important to separate reality from political beliefs unless you want to believe that Saddam Hussein is Ossama Bin Laden.
247 of 264 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Fair and Informative Feb. 28 2005
By M. Parsley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I found Kate Coleman's book on Judi Bari to be extremely well researched and presented. A "can't put down" piece of history about an environmentalist whose heart, words and actions were not always going in the same direction. I grew up in San Francisco in the sixties and moved to the North Coast 22 years ago. Reading this book has been like a walk down memory lane. One of the most important elements of truth is proportion and I believe that The author "Kate Coleman" has succeeded in bringing to the reader a perspective that gives true insight to the many different views that are held on this issue. Kate did lots of home work for this book and she did it well. Thank you Kate

Marc Parsley
277 of 297 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling case for opening the bombing investigation Jan. 31 2005
By Danny Weil - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read with great interest Kate Coleman's recent book on Judi Bari. The book makes a compelling case for reopening the investigation of the bombing that crippled Bari as well as offers a sympathetic view of the complex and legendary icon that was to become a vicarious diva for many activists. As a person who knew both Bari and especially her former husband, Mike Sweeney, Coleman's book offers insight into both Bari's followers as well as her personal life. The book also poses many questions regarding the role of Bari's former husband, Mike Sweeney,in the bombing of Bari's vehicle that left the radical diva disabled. For those who wish to compare and contrast interpretations of history and political points of view in the interest of good critical thinking, this book is a must.

Dr. Danny Weil, ESQ.
The Critical Thinking Institute

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