Many nonfiction books these days focus on military and/or government sagas: Navy seals, Army commandos, generals who want to set their record straight.

A new book titled "Queen Bee" breaks this mold in a memorable way.

It's about a hippy woman who becomes a multimillionaire, and then tries to give away much of her largesse to save the Maine woods.

The subtitle is "Roxanne Quimby, Burt's Bees and Her Quest for a new National Park."

Stranger than fiction, as the saying goes.

Quimby was a non-conformist when at Lexington High School ('68) and UMass (left in '70).

In the early '70s, she and her boyfriend drove across country in proverbial VW bus.

She took art courses in San Francisco but the couple found it too expensive to buy a  home, or even a few acres.

So they drove back to Guilford, Maine, bought some land and joined the homesteading movement.

She met a reclusive beekeeper named Burt Shavitz and they started to make beeswax candles for craft fairs.

Then she developed a beeswax lip balm, which became enormously popular.

Scores of other products were also developed, and a small industry grew in central Maine.

She and her husband had twins, and divorced when the youngsters were small.

But the business thrived on her energy, marketing ability and business acumen.

Burt eventually parted company after it was moved to North Carolina, and she emerged as the owner.

Her firm was sold several times to large national brands, and she walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars.

That would be enough for a book, but Quimby purchased vast sections of wilderness land near near Mt. Katahdin in central Maine and announced she wanted to give it away as a national park.

This infuriated locals, who for centuries had hunted, fished and snowmobiled on the land, formerly owned by paper companies. They stood to lose these privileges.

She was reviled in the upcountry, and many pickups carried bumper stickers such as "Ban Roxanne."

Negotiations are still under way on whether state and federal authorities will accept the land as a national park.

Author Phyllis Austin notes that the much of the paper industry has departed the Maine woods, and that a national park might offer jobs and economic hope. But many natives are still opposing her plans.

If you know Maine, you are aware it is difficult to earn a salary there, much less several hundred million dollars.

So as a business story, this is highly unusual.

When you add the facet that a landowner wants to give away thousands of acres for conservation - but is opposed - it becomes a one-in-a-million tale.

Austin, a former writer for the Associated Press and the (defunct) Maine Times, provides a forest of details about Quimby, her business prowess and her drive to create a national park.

The author spent more than six years researching, and interviewed Quimby many times before her subject said "enough."

She overwrites, and provides much more info than is necessary.

But after hours of interviews with Quimby and others, she has captured the essence of this highly unusual Maine tale.

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