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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Brush Cat: On Trees, The Wood Economy, and the Most Dangerous Job In America » User review

A very informative overview of one of the world's most hazardous occupations.

  • Dec 17, 2009
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Being a lifelong city dweller I really never gave the subject of logging a whole lot of thought.  So long as I had access to an inexpensive and abundant supply of computer paper, lumberprinted matter and toilet tissue it seemed that there was no overriding reason for me to give the subject a second thought.  Jack McEnany resides in New Hampshire.  Although not a logger himself Jack has lived and worked with loggers for nearly two decades.  He has experienced first-hand the hazards that these hardy and brave souls face each and every day they are at work out in the woods.  Meanwhile, Jack McEnany also has a firm grasp on the economics of this industry.  Jack figured that it might be useful to write a book about logging and loggers so that clueless folks like me would come to appreciate the difficulty of the job that they do and just how important wood is to our economic well-being.   "Brush Cat:  On Trees, The Wood Economy, and the Most Dangerous Job In America"  presents a fine overview of the industry and those who work at it for a living.  I found it to be a real eye-opener!

Perhaps the one statistic that jumped out at me more than any other in "Brush Cat" is the amount of paper each of us consumes in a single year.  According to McEnaney  "Every year Americans use more than 90 million tons of paper and paperboard.  That's an average of 700 pounds of paper products per person per year!   Every year more than 2 billion books, 350 milion magazines and 24 billion newspapers are published."   Imagine what would happen to our nation if we had to confront a serious shortage of  forest-industry products?   McEnany points out that our domestic logging industry has been quite adversely affected by trade agreements like NAFTA and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.   Furthermore,  slight increases in average temperatures in our Great Northern Woods has significantly reduced the total number of days suitable for logging each year and in the long term threatens the viability of valuable hardwoods like sugar maple trees. The fact is that it is becoming increasingly difficult for loggers to eke out a living in this country.  McEnaney also enumerates the many safety concerns that make this occupation one of the most dangerous in the world.   "Brush Cut" also explores important land-use issues currently being debated around the country and speculates how new technologies like wood-burning cogeneration plants may revive the sagging fortunes of logging interests in the United States.  Finally,  Jack McEnany gets us all up to speed on some of the logging lexicon that found its way into everyday usage in the English language.  Learn the origins of terms like "skid row", "log jam",  "windfall",  "heads up",  "haywire" and even "peckerhead".  Very interesting and a lot of fun!    

At the end of the day I greatly appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed  "Brush Cat:  On Trees, The Wood Economy, and the Most Dangerous Job In America".  Jack McEnany turns out to be a very fine writer.  I learned an awful lot in this book and I like that.    Highly recommended!
A very informative overview of one of the world's most hazardous occupations. A very informative overview of one of the world's most hazardous occupations. A very informative overview of one of the world's most hazardous occupations. A very informative overview of one of the world's most hazardous occupations.

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December 17, 2009
Wow, those facts are mind boggling!  Maybe it's time for book readers to pick up a Kindle or something.  Thanks for sharing, Paul!
About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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From Publishers Weekly
McEnany (coauthor of Bode) offers a spirited account of life among the burly, hard-living men who log New Englands timberlands thats part self-deprecating memoir (hes a self-admitted klutz around chainsaws) and part serious study of both the ubiquity of wood in contemporary America and the future of domestic logging in the Atlantic Northeast. The good news is that the eastern forests continue to be a valuable renewable resource when logged with sustainability in mind, reports the author. The bad news: sprawling development, increasingly onerous governmental regulations, climate change and the consequent truncated logging season are all gnawing at the loggers precarious livelihood. Unlike the forests of the West, where mechanized logging is the norm and huge swaths of forests are clear-cut indiscriminately, New England woodlots are almost all privately owned land of 25 acres or less, and logging is done by the Brush Cats—independent, self-sufficient woodsmen, who are said to have the most dangerous job in America and are profiled with a mix of comic hyperbole, measured awe and deep affection in this loquacious study. (Mar.)
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ISBN-10: 0312368917
ISBN-13: 978-0312368913
Author: Jack McEnany
Genre: Outdoors & Nature, Conservation
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Date Published: March 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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