The Last Stand: The War Between Wall Street and Main Street Over California's Ancient Redwoods

David Harris, Author Crown Publishers $25 (373p) ISBN 978-0-8129-2577-7

The Pacific Lumber Company (PL), owner of many of the country's old-growth redwood stands still in private hands, practiced a brand of forestry different from that of most of its competitors. Family-owned and -operated for decades, PL refused to clear-cut, believing instead in sustainable forestry. Employees were also considerately treated. All this changed dramatically when corporate raider Charles Hurwitz, with help from Wall Street legends Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken, succeeded in his unfriendly, if not necessarily fully legal, takeover. Hurwitz made millions and changed the face of the redwoods for all time. Journalist Harris (Dreams Die Hard) details the clash of three distinct cultures: greedy Wall Street financiers; idealistic environmentalists; and those attempting to earn their living from the forest. Although the book is a good read, a great deal of liberty seems to have been taken with dialogue and thoughts. With the notable exception of some pulp writing--``Night had fallen like a cast-iron safe down an elevator shaft''--Harris's tale is gripping and informative. Author tour. (Jan.)