Wednesday, November 17, 2004

 

New book out on history of Greenpeace

This looks like an interesting book:

Rex Weyler: Greenpeace - An Insider's Account
17.11.2004 Reviewed by PHILIPPA JAMIESON

Hands up who remembers a time before the word “ecology” came into common use? Before protests against nuclear testing in the Pacific? Before Greenpeace became a household name?
Movements for peace and the environment have been around for a long time, yet it was only 30-odd years ago that a radical group sprang up in Vancouver, fused the ideals of the two movements together with the name Greenpeace, and began a series of protest actions that put the world spotlight on nuclear testing, whale and seal hunting, and other campaigns.

Greenpeace took direct action to new levels, using boats to get to out-of-the-way places such as the Aleutian Islands and Mururoa Atoll, where the Americans and French respectively were conducting atmospheric nuclear tests; to the high seas where the Russians and Japanese were whaling; and to the ice floes of Labrador where Norwegians were hiring locals to kill baby harp seals for their fur.

What made their protests successful was the combination of passionate idealism, bravery, and importantly, use of the media. Graphic images were published and broadcast around the world, and people could see for themselves what was really going on, particularly in the whaling industry, including undeniable proof that undersize whales were being caught, flouting international regulations of that time.

Greenpeace’s David and Goliath approach to protest proved immensely popular.

This book documents Greenpeace in the 70s, from the original group in Vancouver, with its Quaker and counter-culture roots, to its metamorphosis into an international organisation with offices worldwide.

Rex Weyler became involved with Greenpeace in the early 70s, and has clearly done an immense amount of research to collate the facts and figures for this somewhat dense book of more than 600 pages.

He seems to be scrupulously even-handed and honest in describing the inevitable personality conflicts and squabbles over money and decision-making.

At times the story gets bogged down with unnecessary or irrelevant detail, but it comes alive during the action scenes, such as the French ramming a boat and beating up its captain, or protesters being tossed precariously about in inflatable boats between a pod of whales and a harpoon boat.

There are heartfelt moments, too, when for example a dying whale glides past the protesters, fixing them with a wise gaze. A strong spiritual thread runs through the book, with the appearance of “miracles” or good omens, and the use of the I Ching as a divination tool.

The book is, as the cover proclaims, an account of “how a group of ecologists, journalists and visionaries changed the world”, and is both an important history of modern times and an inspirational story of a few committed individuals who made such a huge impact and drew so many people to their causes.

Entertainment News - Rex Weyler: Greenpeace - An Insider's Account

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