Steven C. Beda, "Strong Winds and Widow Makers: Workers, Nature, and Environmental Conflict in Pacific Northwest Timber Country" (U Illinois Press, 2022)


Imagine an environmentalist. Are you picturing a Birkenstock-clad hippie? An office worker who hikes on weekends? A political lobbyist? What about a modern day timber worker? 

This last group is at the center of University of Oregon historian Steven C. Beda's new book, Strong Winds and Widow Makers: Workers, Nature, and Environmental Conflict in Pacific Northwest Timber Country (U Illinois Press, 2023). In Beda's telling, it's timber workers, as lovers of the outdoors who also rely upon healthy forests for their livelihoods, who are often at the forefront of local environmentalism, including organizing at the crossroads of labor and environmental activism. From the late 19th century onwards, timber works imbued the Pacific Northwest with a sense of place inaccessible to upper-class Northern California newcomers who changed the region's cultural and political calculus in the late 20th century. We live in a timber society, Beda argues, and no one knows what that means nearly as much as the workers who turn trees into books like this.

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Stephen Hausmann

Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and is the Acting Executive Director of the American Society for Environmental History.

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