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4.7 out of 5 stars35
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on August 24, 2012
The Golden Spruce was borrowed at the start of a trip to Haida Gwaii. This book was a stimulating companion during the 18 hour ferry ride from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert and the 7 hour ferry trip to Haida Gwaii. We were staying on the north end of the island and woke the first morning to gale force winds and sheets of rain which continued for our stay. Our escape from natures forces was to walk on the Golden Spruce Trail through the old growth forest to a bench beside the river where the fallen golden spruce remains.

This compelling story added a great deal to our Haida Gwaii adventure and to the converstions that we had along the way. Purchasing copies of this book from Amazon completed this extraordinary journey to the island west of west and to wonder if Grant Hadwin still resides in the forests that he loved.
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on August 15, 2007
I seldom read non-fiction, but this was a book club choice and I am very glad I read it. John Vaillant's prose is rich and quite poetic at times. But the engrossing writing does not overshadow the tale Vaillant set himself to tell. The main thread of the book is the story of how a centuries old golden spruce, that was sacred to the Haida, was cut down by Grant Hadwin, a logger gone environmentalist gone mad. In a more in-depth journalistic style and skillfully researched, Vaillant also tells us the historical factors behind the logging industry in the West Coast, and the difficult relationship between loggers and the indigenous people of the area. This is a multi-layered book, partially mystery, partially historical account, definitely haunting in the environmental questions it poses.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2013
Ordered on the advise of a stranger I was takling with who was visiting the west coast. I never heard of the book or Vaillant. Best advise I could have taken, love the writhing and descriptions he goes into.
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on January 21, 2013
I really enjoyed this book. The author does a great job of telling this real life story. He not only brings us into the world of the spruce, it's connection to the native people & their history. But also that of Grant Hadwin, making him a relatable and sympathetic antagonist. Filled with drama & intrigue, it is also an interesting study of human nature & psychology as we see Grant slowly decend into apparent insanity. This is one of those books that you can't put down, drawing you in from page one and keeping you there until the very last word. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good read.
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on June 14, 2007
This won the 2005 Governor General's Award for non-fiction. It's core is about Grant Hadwin, an environmentalist who chopped down a 300 year old Sitka golden spruce, but a lot of other history is given: logging in British Columbia; the native Haida's culture and the influence European settlers had on them; the settlement of cities on the West coast. The mystery behind Hadwin's motive and his subsequent disappearance after destroying the sacred tree didn't interest me as much as the descriptions of the Haidi and the history of lumbering.
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on December 1, 2008
Even though this book has been out awhile I just stumbled across it a couple of months ago. It caught my eye because I have relatives who live on Haida Gwaii and just got back from visiting the beautiful island. Not only were the details about the loss of the beloved tree and the circumstances surrounding it fascinating, but the book also gave me alot of information about the logging industry (it's history, etc.) that I didn't know about. I highly recommend this book!
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on December 1, 2007
I completely agree with all other positive reviews, especially David Boe's response.

The emotions that this book elicits in the reader are difficult to describe in words. Vaillant's work has the ability to entertain readers of many different backgrounds and tastes. I found myself intentionally reading this book more slowly than others because I didn't want it to end.

Please do your heart, mind, and soul a favour and read this book.
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on April 25, 2006
This is a very informative and interesting story. This book gives the reader insight into the foresting industry and the things that drive it. In many ways, such a book is just what Hadwin hoped to inspire: I good hard look at the irony of saving one tree while destroying so many. I take away one star because it can be very fact heavy. However, I came away from the reading a much more informed person.
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on May 16, 2014
a lovable and readable nonfiction that I couldn't put down for all us lazy self proclaimed intellectuals that want our nonfiction in easy doses. I have kept reading his other offers and looking forward to the next effort
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on August 23, 2015
A wonderful study of culture, ecology, the logging industry, Haida history and colonialism in BC. It overs so much more than one famous spruce and shows how that tree stands for a much wider complex of interactions.
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