All the Wild That Remains

All the Wild That Remains

Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
WW Norton
Archetypal wild man Edward Abbey and proper, dedicated Wallace Stegner left their footprints all over the western landscape. Now, award-winning nature writer David Gessner follows the ghosts of these two remarkable writer-environmentalists from Stegner's birthplace in Saskatchewan to the site of Abbey's pilgrimages to Arches National Park in Utah, braiding their stories and asking how they speak to the lives of all those who care about the West.These two great westerners had very different ideas about what it meant to love the land and try to care for it, and they did so in distinctly different styles. Boozy, lustful, and irascible, Abbey was best known as the author of the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang (and also of the classic nature memoir Desert Solitaire), famous for spawning the idea of guerrilla actions—known to admirers as "monkeywrenching" and to law enforcement as domestic terrorism—to disrupt commercial exploitation of western lands. By contrast, Stegner, a buttoned-down, disciplined, faithful family man and devoted professor of creative writing, dedicated himself to working through the system to protect western sites such as Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado.In a region beset by droughts and fires, by fracking and drilling, and by an ever-growing population that seems to be in the process of loving the West to death, Gessner asks: how might these two farseeing environmental thinkers have responded to the crisis?Gessner takes us on an inspiring, entertaining journey as he renews his own commitment to cultivating a meaningful relationship with the wild, confronting American overconsumption, and fighting environmental injustice—all while reawakening the thrill of the words of his two great heroes.
An homage to the West and to two great writers who set the standard for all who celebrate and defend it.

Baker & Taylor
An award-winning nature writer follows in the footsteps of two American writers who personified the Wild West, visiting their birthplaces and the sites they wrote about and discusses the future of the region, now plagued by droughts, fires, fracking and drilling.

Book News
Nature writer David Gessner presents readers with an examination of the lives and works of Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey, focusing on their lasting impact in the preservation and conservation of wild landscapes of the West. The author has organized the main body of his text in twelve chapters devoted to tracing the journey between the footprints both writer-environmentalists left throughout the wild lands of the western United States. David Gessner is an award-winning author and teacher living in North Carolina. Annotation ©2015 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

& Taylor

Retraces footsteps of two American writers who personified the Wild West, visiting their birthplaces and the sites they wrote about and discusses the future of the region, now plagued by droughts, fires, fracking, and drilling.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2015
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780393089998
Branch Call Number: 813.54 GES 2015
Characteristics: 354 pages cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Sep 18, 2015

David Gessner uses a road trip to visit locations in the West critical to the two iconic western writers while visiting his own past as a student at the University of Colorado. Before he left he read and re-read their work and asked questions relevant to today's concerns with climate change, water and resource use, i.e. fracking.
The book is part homage, part environmental wake-up call and part personal memoir. It was hard to pin down the author’s purpose or what he was expecting his readers to get. I consider myself an environmentalist. I’m a big fan of Wallace Stegner’s, less so Edward Abbey. A little disappointed.

Jun 23, 2015

On the surface Edward Abbey and Wallace Stegner don't seem to have much in common. Abbey was a free-spirited wild man who channeled Thoreau (with a lot more sex and drinking), hated authority, and inspired radical environmental movements. Stegner was respectable, reserved, and incredibly hard working, putting out both books of fiction ("Angle of Repose") and non-fiction (books about the Mormons and John Wesley Powell). Their paths crossed briefly when Abbey was a writing student of Stegner's, but they both shared a deep love of nature, were strong defenders of the environment, and made their homes in the West, which was the subject of many of their books. David Gessner's book is part travelogue and part biography. He explores the land they wrote about, talks to some people that knew them, and talks about their lives, particularly their concern for the environment and their exploration of both the mythic and the actual West. Gessner inserts too much of himself into the book, but he's picked fascinating subjects and you'll come away with a better sense of both men. Most importantly, you'll want to read their books.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at ELPL

To Top