Synopses & Reviews
It seems that ever since mankind was kicked out of the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit, weve been trying to get back in. Or at least, weve been wondering where the Garden might have been. St. Augustine had a theory, and so did medieval monks, John Calvin, and Christopher Columbus. But when Darwins theory of evolution permanently altered our understanding of human origins, shouldnt the search for a literal Eden have faded away? Not so fast.
In Paradise Lust, Brook Wilensky-Lanford introduces readers to the enduring modern quest to locate the Garden of Eden on Earth. It is an obsession that has consumed Mesopotamian archaeologists, German Baptist ministers, British irrigation engineers, and the first president of Boston University, among many others. These quixotic Eden seekers all started with the same brief Bible verses, but each ended up at a different spot on the globe: Florida, the North Pole, Ohio, China, and, of course, Iraq. Evocative of Tony Horwitz and Sarah Vowell, Wilensky-Lanford writes of these unusual characters and their search with sympathy and wit. Charming, enlightening, and utterly unique, Paradise Lust is a century-spanning history that will take you to places you never imagined.
"Wilensky-Lanford, whose essays have appeared in Salon, Killing the Buddha, and The Exquisite Corpse, has carved her literary niche as a 'private investigator with an open mind,' exploring myth and the human social psyche. In her first book, she confronts a foundational Western myth, the Garden of Eden, and humanity's constant search to return there. Part adventure story, part historical narrative, Wilensky-Lanford spins the history of explorers who searched for the Garden's precise earthly coordinates. With adept, well-researched prose, she traces how, from four verses in Genesis naming four rivers flowing from the Garden, scientists and pseudo-scientists, preachers and theologians, have claimed 'scientific proof' of Paradise's location in Iraq, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, Florida, Ohio, the North Pole, and elsewhere. Though quick-witted and quirky, Wilensky-Lanford isn't satisfied with asking only 'where,' she also deftly explores 'why?' After traveling the globe on her Paradise quest, she arrives at the stump of 'Adam's Tree' in a contested zone near Basra, Iraq, meditating not so much on the Garden, but on humanity's first steps from it. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Brook Wilensky-Lanford grew up on Mount Desert Island, Maine, studied religion at Wesleyan University, and is a graduate of Columbia Universitys M.F.A. program in nonfiction. She has written for The Huffington Post, Salon, Triple Canopy
, Killing the Buddha, Laphams Quarterly,
and The Exquisite Corpse
. She lives in the Garden State.