President Biden signed numerous executive orders on his first day in office, among them one canceling the Keystone XL pipeline. Indiginous leaders are urging him to do the same with the Dakota Access Pipeline, situated on the Sioux Standing Rock Reservation and the object of protests that began in 2016. In Standoff (Torrey House, Apr.), Jacqueline Keeler writes about the ongoing conflict. “An outcome of colonialism and capitalism is climate change,” says Keeler, one of several authors whose forthcoming books examine the tension between environmental preservation and monetary gain.

Advocating for the Environment

Susan B. Inches. North Atlantic, July

Armed with 25 years of experience working in environmental policy, Inches created a guide to promoting change, writing, “We must wake up to the stories we tell ourselves—stories that rationalize policies and behaviors that destroy life.” She walks readers through various tactics, such as organizing a group to protest harmful development, and having meaningful conversations with those in power who hold opposing viewpoints.

Defending the Arctic Refuge

Finis Dunaway. Univ. of North Carolina, May

Dunaway, a professor at Trent University in Ontario who specializes in U.S. cultural and environmental history, profiles the late Lenny Kohm, a retired jazz drummer who devoted decades to protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drillers. Together with members of Alaska’s Gwich’in Nation, Kohm, who died in 2014, formed a grassroots organization to protect the refuge, a battle that continues: in former president Trump’s last days in office, he opened up much of the land to fossil fuel development, and in one of President Biden’s first executive actions, he put a temporary moratorium on the leases.

Shoulder to Shoulder

Evelyn Searle Hess. Rowman & Littlefield, July

In the 2010 memoir To the Woods, Hess recounts the 15 years she and her husband lived in a tent and trailer in the Oregon Coast wilderness; her follow-up, 2015’s Building a Better Nest, contemplates the issues of sustainable living that arose when they decided to build a home. Her new book shares stories of environmental activism and cooperation, such as the landowners and Native communities in southern Oregon who came together to prevent the construction of a pipeline that would have threatened water supplies and Indigenous lands.


Jacqueline Keeler. Torrey House, Apr.

Keeler, a Dine/Ihanktonwan Dakota journalist, compares two land-related deadlocks from 2016: the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s peaceful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Bundy family’s armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Published by Torrey House, a nonprofit press focused on environmental advocacy, the book examines the differing treatment of white and Indigenous protesters by law enforcement and the media, and draws connections with the United States' history of colonization.

The World We Need

Edited by Audrea Lim. New Press, Apr.

“The environmental movement is rooted in the efforts of regular people fighting to protect the air, water, natural resources, and health of their communities,” writes Lim, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Nation, and elsewhere. She collects stories from other reporters and environmental activists, shedding light on the work done in areas that have been disproportionately affected by industrial pollution and climate change. Examples include activists defending communities threatened by pollution in Mobile, Ala., and Hawaiian sovereignty advocates bolstering Native people’s connection to their culture through farming.


Return to the main feature.