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All the Wild that Remains

April 2015

Follow me as I follow Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner on a tour of the American West (and their lives).

ALL THE WILD THAT REMAINS
W.W. Norton April 2015

“Gessner writes with a vividness that brings the serious ecological issues and the beauty of the land into to sharp relief. This urgent and engrossing work of journalism is sure to raise ecological awareness and steer readers to books by the authors whom it references.”—Publishers’ Weekly. Starred Review.

“Stegner and Abbey ‘are two who have lighted my way,’ nature writer Wendell Berry admitted. They have lighted the way for Gessner, as well, as he conveys in this graceful, insightful homage to their work and to the region they loved.”—Kirkus Review (Starred Review)


“Two extraordinary men, and one remarkable book. To understand how we understand the natural world, you need to read this book.” --Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth

"An excellent study of two difficult men."
— Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove and The Last Kind Words Saloon

"A travel book, yes, a literary memoir, yes, and a profound meditation on our myths and shadows. Anyone who loves the American west will be enraptured by this book. It is a wonderful piece of work."
— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Queen of America

"This book rubs Abbey and Stegner’s history in the dust and sand so beloved to them, posing these two late icons among voices, landscapes, and arguments that endure in western wilderness, deftly creating a larger geographic chronicle." — Craig Childs, author of House of Rain and

“Praise David Gessner for reminding us that the words of our two most venerated literary grandfathers of the American West, to remind us of our wilder longings, to incite in us a fury, that we might act--even now--to defend all the wild that remains.” — Pam Houston, author of Cowboys are My Weakness and Contents May Have Shifted

“To understand the truth of the Desert West, read Stegner. To understand one writer’s emotional response to that desert and to our thoughtless destruction of wilderness, read Abbey. To understand the two writers as men of their times—and ours—read Gessner: for his honesty, compassion, humility, scholarship, and sensibility.”---Stephen Trimble, author of Bargaining for Eden


This engaging book provides an intimate look at Edward Abbey (1927–89) and Wallace Stegner (1909–93), two of America's finest authors, both of whom chafed at being pigeonholed as regional writers. Certainly their fond, passionate focus was the American West, but there is much universality in their concerns. Gessner (Return of the Osprey) traveled to places they haunted, read all he could of their writings, and spoke with people who knew them well. His smooth, literate text is enhanced by photographs of Stegner and Abbey as well as chapter notes that read well. Stegner authored 46 works, including 13 novels, and won a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Abbey wrote 28 books, was a Fulbright Scholar at Edinburgh University, and may be best known for his book Desert Solitaire, which is often said to be as worthy as Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Stegner, clean cut, traditional, with a PhD, and Abbey, an uncompromising anarchist and atheist with a 1960s-ish appearance and lifestyle, provide rich grist for Gessner's mill, which he fully exploits for the benefit of any reader. Gessner himself has penned nine books. All three authors qualify as important environmentalists and writers. VERDICT Highly recommended for everyone interested in literature, environmentalism, and the American West.—Library Journal Henry T. Armistead