Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

The Golden Spruce

Posted on

The Golden Spruce

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
John Vaillant
publisher:
W.W. Norton
genre:
Science and Technology, Nonfiction

We gave it an A

On a deserted, boulder-strewn beach in Alaska, a marine biologist stumbles across a battered kayak amid a debris field of personal effects in The Golden Spruce. This simple, enigmatic discovery launches a riveting tale of a remarkable 300-year-old tree and the tormented eco-activist who, against all reason, brought it down with a chainsaw. Stretching 16 stories into the sky, the one-in-a-million Sitka spruce sprouted needles that were luminously gold — an ”arboreal unicorn” so rare and beautiful, it was revered by the local Indian tribe and jealously championed by both the logging companies and environmentalists at war in neighboring forests. Its untimely destruction came at the hands of Grant Hadwin, a troubled ex-logger who confessed to the crime — and disappeared under fittingly mysterious circumstances right before his trial. In a scrupulously researched narrative worthy of comparison to Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, John Vaillant uses a tragic episode to tell a larger story of the heartbreakingly complex relationship between man and nature.