Operation Bite Back: Rod Coronado’s War to Save American Wilderness

Bloomsbury USA, 2009

In post-9/11 America, environmental activists found themselves the unexpected target of greatly expanded domestic counterintelligence programs and terrorism prosecutions. Few were as controversial as the 2007 trial and conviction of infamous U.S. eco-radical Rod Coronado. A Californian of Yaqui descent, Coronado began demonstrating in support of animal rights while still in grade school. As a member of Sea Shepherd, a direct action anti-whaling group that is the subject of the TV show “Whale Wars,” he was responsible for sinking Iceland’s (unmanned) whaling fleet in Reykjavik harbor in 1986. Thus began a life of nonviolent but illegal protest that turned him into a saboteur, arsonist, and fugitive. Kuipers follows Coronado’s career as he launches an audacious campaign to cripple fur farming across the U.S. in the early 1990s, finally ending up in prison for five years. In 2003, he is delivering a public lecture in San Diego when he is accused of inciting terrorism, tried, and sentenced to a year in prison – one of the few successful prosecutions of speech in the history of the U.S. Coronado’s outlaw adventures for the cause are electrifying, from his covert videotaping of crimes against animals to his fiery destruction of fur farms and research labs, and his spiritual and moral struggles are equally compelling and instructive. As Kuipers meticulously tracks Coronado’s intense commitment to animals and eventual rejection of property destruction, he illuminates the tenets of deep ecology and animal rights and provides an invaluable history of radical environmentalism.

“Dean Kuipers takes you blindfolded on the back of a donkey deep into the jungles of the eco-guerillas.” – Mike Roselle

“Reads like an episode from a mystery novel…a provocative and careful testament to the ever-changing definition of activism.” – Kirkus starred review

“This book will make you re-examine some perhaps superficial beliefs about protest and nonviolence and radicalism.” – Bill McKibben

“Dean Kuipers has captured the essence of the Rodney Coronado I knew decades ago: a “warrior” for Native American human beings, Native American animals, and the Native American ecosystem.” – Ingrid Newkirk, president, PETA

“Coronado’s outlaw adventures for the cause are electrifying…and his spiritual and moral struggles are equally compelling and genuinely instructive.” — Donna Seaman, Booklist