Paper pub. date
January 1999
ISBN 9780870714603 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 256 pages.

The Left Hand of Eden

Meditations on Nature and Human Nature

William Ashworth

**Literary Arts Winner Oregon Book Award**

This important contribution to the growing debate over the protection of wilderness areas comes from an unusual perspective — that of an environmentalist arguing against preservation.

A longtime activist, William Ashworth grew frustrated with the environmental movement and its efforts to preserve wilderness. In this provocative book he explores "the disharmony that exists between the laws of nature and the laws we use to protect it." Ashworth argues that wilderness preservation is a form of separation from the land and, as such, is as harmful to nature as logging or mining. Treating nature as something "other" — whether to preserve it or destroy it — creates a false dichotomy, from which all modern environmental battles arise: use versus preservation, civilization versus wilderness.

Ashworth presents his bold and original ideas in a series of linked nature essays. In these powerful, poetic writings he shows that proper care for the land requires not just use or reverence, but use with reverence. "Careful use of resources is the key to preserving them," he writes. "It not only works: it is the only thing that ever has."

About the author

William Ashworth is the author of numerous books on the environment and natural history, including The Economy of Nature, The Late, Great Lakes, and The Wallowas: Coming of Age in the Wilderness, a volume in the Oregon State University Press Northwest Reprints series. He lives in Ashland, Oregon.

Read more about this author


I. The Undiscovered Journey
    A Death at Sunset
    Witnesses to the Creation
    The Undiscovered Journey

II. The Enemy of Progress
    The Lone and Level Sands
    The Butterfly's Wing
    The Thing He Loves
    The Enemy of Progress
    Hopeful Monsters
    On the Edge

III. The Left Hand of Eden
    Thoreau's Doormat
    Spotting the Owl
    The Left Hand of Eden
    Down the River


Notes on Sources

"Forthright, lucid, and as in love with the universe as his heroes."


"Ashworth's prose is as poetic as it is informative and insightful, and life a good poet, Ashworth never once settles for the easy conclusion. This is as inviting and provocative a read as I have encountered in a long time."

—Alan Reder, author of 75 Best Business Practices for Socially Responsible Companies and co-author of Investing from the Heart

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