Last Stand by Todd Wilkinson

todds-cover350-258x400Nonfiction — iBooks edition. Lyons Press, 2013. 392 pgs. Purchased.

Subtitled “Ted Turner’s Quest to Save a Troubled Planet”, Wilkinson’s biography of the creator of CNN and the twenty-four hour news cycle concentrates on his life after stepping down from the helm of CNN. Turner turned his attention to environmentalist and the plight of the American bison becoming the second largest landowner in the United States after the U.S. Government. Bison are not universally loved in the American West, and Turner’s actions towards them garnished much ire and suspicion in Montana, particularly in the town where my parents reside.

This book should be read with a grain of salt given the absence of criticism — other than that of ranchers who were eventually won over, according to Wilkinson — and the author’s close relationship with Turner. But I think it was a worthwhile read in terms of understanding the point of the view of the man who owns a large slice of land near Yellowstone and nearer still to my parents’ house.

I had no idea he created the “Captain Planet” cartoon series, which I watched as a kid, or that he worked with Jacques Cousteau. And he certainly deserves praise for refusing to splice up his large ranch in Montana called the Flying D Ranch into a series of ranchettes for the one percent a la the Yellowstone Club, although he did squabble with allowing public access to public land through his ranch. His philosophy of “eco-capitalism” is both interesting and commendable; he could be spending his money on schemes to extract more natural resources from the environment rather than restoring them.

But, as I stated before, this is very a fluffy piece that puts a positive spin of Turner’s actions with the exception of the dissolution of his marriage to Jane Fonda and his relationship with his father. Personally, I would have prefer to read a book on this subject by an author with less of a personal relationship with Turner or one more willing to examine the criticism against Turner’s plan. But, for the purpose of better understanding the goals of the Flying D Ranch, I am glad I read this book.


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