By Louise Wagenknecht
OSU Press, $19.95, 216 pages
Growing up in an isolated logging town of Happy Camp is the focal point of Louise Wagenknecht’s fascinating memoir. This tiny community is in northwestern California, a short distance from the Oregon border. Her book, Light on the Devils, gives the reader interesting and easy-to-read stories in seventeen chapters. The writing is very good, and anyone interested in logging, lumber mills and the involvement of the Forest Service during the thirty years of the industry from mid-1960s to mid-1990s will enjoy this book. Wagenknecht became a naturalist, fully appreciating flora, fauna and landscape, nevertheless hunting was not alien to her assuring meat in the freezer for the family. But life in these small logging towns changed drastically as lumber mills closed one after another in the mid-1990s thanks to environmental pressures, leaving Happy Camp’s population without work.
After attending college, she started her career with the National Forest Service and continued on for thirty years. She was as familiar with the struggle of the former loggers and mill workers as with the environmental problems that triggered their struggle. Through her wonderful stories we learn about a small slice of a distant American life, illustrated by a few small photos.
Reviewed by George Erdosh