The Golden Spruce

The Golden Spruce

The award-winning international bestseller



'Absolutely spellbinding' New York Times
'Will change how many people think about nature' Sebastian Junger


On a bleak winter night in 1997, a British Columbia timber scout named Grant Hadwin committed an act of shocking violence: he destroyed the legendary Golden Spruce of the Queen Charlotte Islands. With its rich colours, towering height and luminous needles, the tree was a scientific marvel, beloved by the local Haida people who believed it sacred.

The Golden Spruce tells the story of the sadness which pushed Hadwin to such a desperate act of destruction - a bizarre environmental protest which acts as a metaphor for the challenge the world faces today. But it also raises the question of what then happened to Hadwin, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances and remains missing to this day.

Part thrilling mystery, part haunting depiction of the ancient beauty of the coastal wilderness, and part dramatic chronicle of the historical collision of Europeans and the native Haida, The Golden Spruce is a timely portrait of man's troubled relationship with a vanishing world.

'Worthy of comparison to Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild . . . A story of the heartbreakingly complex relationship between man and nature.' ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

'His story is about one man and one tree, but it is much more than that. John Vaillant has written a work that will change how many people think about nature.' SEBASTIAN JUNGER

'A haunting tale of a good man driven mad by environmental devastation' LOS ANGELES TIMES

'Absolutely spellbinding . . . descriptions of the Queen Charlotte Islands, with their misty, murky light and hushed, cathedral-like forests, are haunting, and Vaillant does full justice to the noble, towering trees.' NEW YORK TIMES

'A haunting portrait of man's vexed relationship with nature.' PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


  • In rich, painterly prose, [Vaillant] evokes the lush natural world where the golden spruce took root and thrived, the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest. . . . Vaillant is absolutely spellbinding when conjuring up the world of the golden spruce. His descriptions of the Queen Charlotte Islands, with their misty, murky light and hushed, cathedral-like forests, are haunting, and he does full justice to the noble, towering trees. . . . The chapters on logging, painstakingly researched, make high drama out of the grueling, highly dangerous job of bringing down some of the biggest trees on earth.
    New York Times

About the author

John Vaillant

John Vaillant has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Outside, National Geographic Adventure, and Men's Journal among others, and his books have been translated into fifteen languages. Of particular interest to Vaillant are stories that explore collisions between human ambition and the natural world, and his work has taken him to five continents and five oceans. The Golden Spruce, his first book, is an international bestseller and won several awards, including the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction (Canada). Vaillant was awarded a Windham Campbell Prize in 2014. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and children.
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