Making Waves: The Origins and Future of Greenpeace


181 pages
Contains Photos, Index
ISBN 1-55164-166-6
DDC 363.7'0577






Reviewed by Patrick Colgan

Patrick Colgan is Director of Research and Natural Lands at the Royal
Botanical Gardens.


This book is more autobiography than institutional biography, but a good
read nonetheless. Born in the Bronx, Bohlen became radicalized as he
lived at various places in the northeastern United States, eventually
moving in middle-age to British Columbia. There he founded the Sierra
Club of British Columbia and then Greenpeace, and led well-publicized
protests against nuclear testing in Alaska and, locally, land-eating
developments. Less spectacularly, he established a back-to-the-earth
farm, described in a celebrated book. Throughout there were involvements
with politics at all levels. Further campaigns included protesting the
testing of cruise missiles, Greenpeace going international, the sinking
of the Rainbow Warrior, and the World Federalist Movement in which
Bohlen remains active. There followed the Greengrass Institute and the
Earth Summit, which receives a lengthy discussion. There is a brief
overview of the post-Rio history, and global impacts, of Greenpeace,
while the inclusion of an appendix on the Alaskan test demonstrates how
pivotal this protest was to Bohlen.

While Bohlen’s own storyline runs fairly smoothly, there are large
gaps in developments surrounding Greenpeace, to the chagrin of readers
seeking this history. The direct and conversational text, accompanied by
black-and-white photographs, recounts a mixture of personal experience
and general analysis of environmental and political issues, global and
local. From an individual so centrally involved, it is intriguing to
hear why the five years beginning in 1987 were so critical to the
environmental movement. A fascinating feature of Bohlen’s odyssey is
its broadening from military and environmental issues to the entire
political, economic, and natural fabric of humanity.


Bohlen, Jim., “Making Waves: The Origins and Future of Greenpeace,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024,