Brush Cat

On Trees, the Wood Economy, and the Most Dangerous Job in America

By Jack McEnany
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312368913, 240pp.)

Publication Date: March 17, 2009

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A Year in the Woods

Brush Cat recounts a year in the life of men who perform one of the most dangerous jobs in America—logging New England’s vast forests for timber used in hundreds more ways than most of us realize, from houses to furniture to paper to electricity. In the spirit of John McPhee and Tracy Kidder, we meet an unforgettable cast of characters; feel their pain and exultation, and come to realize the centrality of wood in all of our lives.

While they are first and foremost loggers cutting down trees, they are also ardent and effective conservationists who depend on healthy, intact forests for their long-term survival. True, some loggers are wood pirates, but most are pragmatic environmentalists, always asking the question: How do we keep this crop alive and thriving forever?

The narrative moves deftly from useful tips on how not to lose body parts to a chain saw, through the terror of huge trees that fall the wrong way, to inconsistent and wrong-headed government forest management. It explores the worldwide demand for wood and wood chips, as well as the effect of climate change on the forest, and traces the money that keeps it all moving. Brush Cat clears the branches to reveal a hidden and fascinating world.

About the Author

Jack McEnany has lived among loggers in New Hampshire for more than twenty years. He is the co-author of Bode: Go Fast, Be Good, Have Fun, the autobiography of skier Bode Miller.

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