Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America

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9780520251113: Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America
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Beginning with an Olympic ski race in northern Utah, this heartfelt book from award-winning writer and photographer Stephen Trimble takes a penetrating look at the battles raging over the land—and the soul—of the American West. Bargaining for Eden investigates the high-profile story of a reclusive billionaire who worked relentlessly to acquire public land for his ski resort and to host the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. In a gripping, character-driven narrative, based on extensive interviews, Trimble tells of the land exchange deal that ensued, one of the largest and most controversial in U.S. history, as he deftly explores the inner conflicts, paradoxes, and greed at the heart of land-use disputes from the back rooms of Washington to the grassroots efforts of passionate citizens. Into this mix, Trimble weaves the personal story of how he, a lifelong environmentalist, ironically became a landowner and developer himself, and began to explore the ethics of ownership anew. We travel with Trimble in a fascinating journey that becomes, in the end, a hopeful credo to guide citizens and communities seeking to reinvent their relationship with the beloved American landscape.

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From the Inside Flap:

"While open spaces in America are rapidly being destroyed as a result of greed, hubris, and neglect, Stephen Trimble's Bargaining for Eden is a powerful call for us to more earnestly consider our solemn obligations as stewards of the Earth. Combining remarkable investigative research with his skills as a poignant essayist, Trimble has favored us with an extraordinary account that inspires as it challenges our values, our commitment to action, and our sense of connection with place, community, and the essence of who we are as inhabitants of this wondrous planet." Rocky Anderson, Former Mayor of Salt Lake City

From Hetch Hetchy to Glen Canyon, we mourn the sacred places in the west that have been bargained away for the American dream. Stephen Trimble eloquently shows that these are not just conflicts over land, but choices over which American dream we pursue as a nation. What moves us to act? What do we really value? How shall we live together? In this mature and poignant book, Trimble urges passion and self-awareness and reminds us that no conflict arises totally outside of oneself; all of the things we fear in others may be possible in ourselves.” Peter Forbes, Director, Center for Whole Communities

With this masterwork, Stephen Trimble has given us the most reasoned and moving account of how and why the West becomes developed and its lands fragmented. Rather than merely pointing the finger at developers or passive staffers in federal agencies, he places the development issue in a larger cultural context, asking us all to be full participants in the choices about how our lands and waters are ultimately managed. As wise as it is heartbreaking, Trimble's story challenges us to sign on to supporting a new ethics of land use in the West that will keep such tragedies from occurring so frequently in the future.” Gary Nabhan, author of Renewing America's Food Traditions and Cultures of Habitat

With Bargaining for Eden, Stephen Trimble has given us both a piece of dogged investigative journalism and a soul-searching confessional. The shocking, largely unreported story of Earl Holding and the Snowbasin land swap becomes, in Trimble's heartfelt prose, a metaphor for the way land is used and abused in the West. But Stephen doesn't stop with the exposé. He weaves it into a thoughtful and thought-provoking reverie on man's place in an increasingly threatened landscape. We are all part of the problem. And, he writes hopefully, we can, with honest effort, become part of the solution.” Peter Shelton, author of Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of WWII's 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops

Make no mistake: Bargaining for Eden is a brave and important book. It's a page-turner of a story about powerful men, unspeakable wealth, and Olympic gold-medal mountains. But it's also a Jungle in the tradition of Upton Sinclair, a disturbing story of how politics and capitalism worked hand-in-hand against the common good and our commonweal of wildlands. If we are ever to learn how to live on the land and at the same time protect its heart, maybe we can start here, in Trimble's beloved Utah mountains.” Kathleen Dean Moore, author of The Pine Island Paradox

About the Author:

Writer, photographer, and naturalist Stephen Trimble has won awards for his nonfiction, his fiction, and his photography, including the Ansel Adams Award from The Sierra Club. His books include The Sagebrush Ocean: A Natural History of the Great Basin, The People: Indians of the American Southwest, The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places (with Gary Nabhan), and Testimony: Writers of the West Speak on Behalf of Utah Wilderness (co-compiled with Terry Tempest Williams).

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Publisher: University of California Press, 2008
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