New West Books

Goliath Staggered: How the People of Highway 12 Conquered Big Oil

Regular price $ 18.95
It is a classic tale of David vs. Goliath, where a hardy band of activists and everyday citizens opposed efforts by Big Oil to transport hundreds of proposed shipments of equipment the size of submarines along some of the most scenic stretches of highway in Idaho and Montana — a story told well by author Steve Bunk in an upcoming release from New West Books, Goliath Staggered: How the People of Highway 12 Conquered Big Oil.

The so-called “megaloads” controversy mesmerized citizens of the Northwest states from 2010 to 2013. Before the XL Pipeline debate came to public attention, several of the world’s biggest oil companies were determined to ship hundreds of gigantic loads of mining equipment to the tar sands of Canada via wild lands in northern Idaho that were protected by federal law from such industrial traffic. Big Oil had politicians in its pocket, but grassroots opposition arose, and after three years of confrontations in meeting rooms, the media, the streets and the courts, the citizens won.

In Goliath Staggered: How the People of Highway 12 Conquered Big Oil, Idaho writer Steve Bunk chronicles this successful grassroots campaign. In so doing, he presents a template for how everyday people, sufficiently motivated and brilliantly led, can protect their environment against seemingly insurmountable forces.

The book follows the exploits of Linwood Laughy and Karen “Borg” Hendrickson. In late-middle age, this couple became alarmed by the prospect of what Borg dubbed the “megaloads,” and fostered a resistance movement that captured regional, national, and even international attention. Their efforts were mirrored by a grassroots campaign centered in Missoula, Mont., whose origins and development also are depicted in Goliath Staggered.

Goliath Staggered recounts a drama that unfolded week by week over the years, including relentless sleuthing by citizen activists, the discovery of collusion between politicians and businessmen, broken laws, media revelations, disinformation campaigns, nonviolent protests, shipping accidents on the road, and legal battles in Idaho and Montana that pitted the people against the massed forces of government and big industry.

“This is a major contribution to conservation literature, and tonic for anyone who needs reminding that in America, against all odds, caring people still make a difference,” says Rick Johnson, executive director of the Idaho Conservation League.

Bill McKibben, founder of, the international movement to combat climate change and the leading opponent of the proposed XL Pipeline, calls Goliath Staggered “an inspiring story of resistance and nonviolent power.”

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, adds that “Steve Bunk’s deft reporting captures the creative, chaotic energy of a true grassroots campaign.”

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