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About David Gessner
David Gessner is the author of eleven books that blend a love of nature, humor, memoir, and environmentalism, including Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt’s American Wilderness and the New York Times-bestselling All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West. Gessner currently serves as Chair of the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the literary magazine, Ecotone. His prizes include a Pushcart Prize, the John Burroughs Award for Best Nature Essay, the Association for Study of Literature and the Environment’s award for best book of creative writing, and the Reed Award for Best Book on the Southern Environment. In 2017 he hosted the National Geographic Explorer show, "The Call of the Wild." He is married to the novelist Nina de Gramont.
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Titles By David Gessner
An homage to the West and to two great writers who set the standard for all who celebrate and defend it.
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.
“Leave it as it is,” Theodore Roosevelt announced while viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time. “The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.” Roosevelt’s pronouncement signaled the beginning of an environmental fight that still wages today. To reconnect with the American wilderness and with the president who courageously protected it, acclaimed nature writer and New York Times bestselling author David Gessner embarks on a great American road trip guided by Roosevelt’s crusading environmental legacy.
Gessner travels to the Dakota badlands where Roosevelt awakened as a naturalist; to Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon where Roosevelt escaped during the grind of his reelection tour; and finally, to Bears Ears, Utah, a monument proposed by Native Tribes that is currently embroiled in a national conservation fight. Along the way, Gessner questions and reimagines Roosevelt’s vision for today’s lands.
“Insightful, observant, and wry,” (BookPage) Leave It As It Is offers an arresting history of Roosevelt’s pioneering conservationism, a powerful call to arms, and a profound meditation on our environmental future.
—MICHAEL P. BRANCH, author of How to Cuss in Western
When the pandemic struck, nature writer David Gessner turned to Henry David Thoreau, the original social distancer, for lessons on how to live. Those lessons—of learning our own backyard, re–wilding, loving nature, self–reliance, and civil disobedience—hold a secret that could help save us as we face the greater crisis of climate.
DAVID GESSNER is the author of Leave It As It Is: A Journey Through Theodore Roosevelt's American Wilderness and the New York Times–bestselling All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner and the American West. Chair of the Creative Writing Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and founder and editor–in–chief of Ecotone, Gessner lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with his wife, the novelist Nina de Gramont, and their daughter, Hadley.
Though environmental awareness is on the rise, our march toward ecological collapse continues. What was once a movement based primarily on land preservation, endangered species, and policy reform is now a fractured mess of back-to-the-landers, capitalist “green lifestyle” vendors, technology worshipers, and countless special interest groups.
Inspired by a rough-and-tumble journey across country and down river, David Gessner, a John Burroughs Award winner, makes the case for a new environmentalism. In a frank, funny, and incisive call to arms that spans from the Cape Wind Project to the Monkey Wrench Gang, he considers why we do or do not fight to protect and restore wilderness, and reminds us why it’s time to join the fray.
Known as an environmental advocate “reminiscent of Edward Abbey” (Library Journal), Gessner rebels against this fragmented environmentalism and holier-than-thou posturing. He also suggests that global problems, though real, are disempowering. While introducing us to lovable, stubborn Dan Driscoll, “a regular guy fighting a local fight for a limited wilderness,” he argues for a movement focused on local issues and grounded in a more basic, more holistic—and ultimately more effective—defense of home.
“Funny and inspiring.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Winner of an ASLE Book Award and a Reed Award
Named a Top Book from the South by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Traveling the shores of the Gulf from east to west with oceanographers, subsistence fishermen, seafood distributors, and other longtime Gulf residents, environmental advocate and acclaimed author of All the Wild That Remains David Gessner offers a lively, arresting account of the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
With The Tarball Chronicles, Gessner tells a story that extends beyond the archetypal oil-soaked pelican, beyond politics, beyond BP, and beyond other oil-spill accounts. Instead, heart on his sleeve and beer in hand, he explores the ecosystem of the Gulf as a complicated whole and focuses on the people whose lives and livelihoods have been jeopardized by the spill. With his signature combination of intellect, passion, and humor, Gessner asks how much we are willing to sacrifice for the conveniences of modern life.
“Gessner has the heart and mind of an investigative journalist.” —Mobile Press-Register
David Gessner devoted his twenties to a cultish sport called Ultimate Frisbee. Like his teammates and rivals, he trained for countless hours, sacrificing his body and potential career for a chance at fleeting glory without fortune or fame. His only goal: to win Nationals and go down in Ultimate history as one of the greatest athletes no one has ever heard of.
With humor and raw honesty, Gessner explores what it means to devote one’s life to something that many consider ridiculous. Today, Ultimate is played by millions, but in the 1980s, it was an obscure sport with a (mostly) undeserved stoner reputation. Its early heroes were as scrappy as the sport they loved, driven by fierce competition, intense rivalries, epic parties, and the noble ideals of the Spirit of the Game.
Ultimate Glory is a portrait of the artist as a young ruffian. Gessner shares the field and his seemingly insane obsession with a cast of closely knit, larger-than-life characters. As his sport grows up, so does he, and eventually he gives up chasing flying discs to pursue a career as a writer. But he never forgets his love for this misunderstood sport and the rare sense of purpose he attained as a member of its priesthood.
Soaring with Fidel is about the exhilaration of migration, but it is also a deeper meditation on the nature of human happiness. In describing the thrill of travel, the antics of these swashbuckling birds, and the cast of characters he meets (and drinks with) along the way—including scientists, students, tour guides, and an online group of birders—Gessner gives us a profound lesson in the importance of following what you love.