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Bargaining for Eden

The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America

Stephen Trimble (Author)


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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.
Becoming Earl

Little America
Mountain of Dreams
The Prophets of Place

The Last Resort
The Rules of the Game
Museum of Improprieties
Track Hoe
Pneumonia Road
Public Trust

Ninety-Nine Seconds
Farmers in Eden
Crazy Grace
Devil's Bargains
The Woes of Wayne County
Credo: The People's West

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).
“A compelling read . . . The controversies Trimble describes are fascinating, his candid confessions of his own bargains with the devil of excessive resource consumption are engaging, and his distillation of the dilemmas confronted by those seeking to manage the West’s natural resources sustainably are insightful.”—Susan L. Smith American Scientist
“Whether buttressed by the description of Holding's development of an entire valley high in the snowy mountains of Utah or of Trimble's own modest home, ‘Bargaining for Eden’ convincingly asserts that the protection of the wildest country on our public lands is necessary to preserve that quality of America so famously described by the great Wallace Stegner as ‘the geography of hope.’ The case Trimble makes is well illustrated, and also troubling testimony to the speed with which a birthright is now slipping away.”—Rick Bass Boston Globe Book Section
“Bargaining for Eden often reads like a novel, filled with charming character portraits, even though some of the characters are less than charming. With an even hand, Trimble lays out the facts, and respectfully tells a story of people with values different from his, of opposing groups who can look at one piece of land and see two very different worlds of possibilities.”—Audrey Webb Earth Island Journal
“A compelling and important book for all of us who are concerned about the future of our remaining open spaces.”—Nick Carling High Uintas Preservation Council
“These are wise words, and one can imagine Wallace Stegner, who combined a profound knowledge of the region with a rare ability to examine human nature in a way that offered new insights, would be proud. This is an important book.”—Barry Scholl Entrada Institute Newsletter
“Trimble’s alignment—sometimes with the powerless, in other cases with the powerful—challenges readers’ attitudes. An estimated 80 percent of western ranches will change ownership in the next two decades. Bargaining for Eden ultimately asks what we are doing as landowners, neighbors, and citizens to ensure that our changing communities are rooted in, not greed, but generosity.”—Joshua Zaffos Orion
“Stephen Trimble is the only honest writer in America.”—Sam Lowry The Oregonian
"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

Utah Book Award in Non-Fiction, Utah Center for the Book

Finalist for the 2008 Utah Book Award in Nonfiction, Utah Center for the Book

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