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Storming the Gates of Paradise

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  216 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews

Rebecca Solnit has made a vocation of journeying into difficult territory and reporting back, as an environmentalist, antiglobalization activist, and public intellectual. Storming the Gates of Paradise, an anthology of her essential essays from the past ten years, takes the reader from the Pyrenees to the U.S.Mexican border, from San Francisco to London, from open sky to t

Hardcover, 429 pages
Published June 18th 2007 by University of California Press (first published 2007)
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Solnit is a hero to me; she defines what activism can mean and accomplish. I read these essays, and I get the message: not all you do will change the world dramatically, but you have to at least care, at least FEEL some sort of passion for the planet we live on, and then do something about it! I have never been willing to be arrested for protesting, but I imagine I might be on a FBI list for emails against Bush's policies... and circulating a Swiss German poster of Bush... Her main focus is envi ...more
blue-collar mind
Sep 02, 2014 blue-collar mind rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is in the battle for their home
Shelves: super-classics
Good news. Help is here. I was handed this book in the author's home city of San Francisco at the City Lights bookstore in 2007 by a bookseller who noted my home of New Orleans; as he handed it to me from the new book area, he shared that Solnit was actually in New Orleans, researching. I have to confess that upon hearing that, I rolled my eyes but after leafing through it, I bought it anyway and went back to my quiet hotel and read it through and was glad I did. I have now read many more bits o ...more
Feb 19, 2009 Venessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cherie, Wanda, Amanda; anyone who loves cities, environmentalism & walking
This is not a quick and easy read, but not because it is bad; indeed, it took me longer to read than I would have wished because others kept putting holds on it and I would have to get a copy from another library! Still, I read it slowly, because it is one of those books that you want to read slowly and digest and you find yourself thinking about the issues Solnit raises and wanting to thoroughly commit them to memory before moving on. Solnit tackles favorite subjects of hers (and mine) here: pe ...more
May 10, 2013 Vendela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solnit is always an incredibly read. She is stellar when discussing the early environmental activists of California and the US, even more stellar and affecting when getting into anti-war activism, and even when I disagree with her I can do so intelligently, carrying on the discussion begun by the essay in my head. When she's wrong, she's wrong in a way I can most often respect (aside from her very occasional forays into elitism that makes her both dismiss the internet and come off as, well, elit ...more
Jul 03, 2008 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
solnit is officially my favorite writer of the moment. this is a collection of essays, ranging from 2006 back to the mid-nineties. as such, there not as uniformly great as a field guide to getting lost, which i also read recently. but when she's got a good idea, she follows through with it in surprising and illuminating ways. the quality of the work often follows the theme of its content. for my money, any time solnit discusses american history, art or gender, her writing is rich, informative an ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eleanor by: Adelia Gregory, Pablo de Ocampo
I'm on a Rebecca Solnit binge. This one might be a little drier, as it's a collection of articles and so far my biggest fault with it is the print is really small. I'm excited to see where she takes me and I love that she can combine journalism, memoir, and critical thought into the same piece... I was on the brink of abandoning this book, however, until Pablo commented on my review and gave me the wherewithal to continue. I'm so glad I did! Once I allowed myself to skip a few of the essays, I w ...more
Braden Bernards
Jun 25, 2014 Braden Bernards rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely excellent. Unparalleled in its prose, and sharp in a way few books achieve on modern political geography, landscapes of dissent, and landscapes of possibility.
Mar 06, 2011 Bennet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can already tell I am going to eat this up. I can remember feeling sad that I seemed to have read everything by Annie Dillard. I think Rebecca Solnit is my new Annie Dillard.

A brilliant take on the politics of landscape, the gist being:

"Silicon Valley is not unique but typical in contemporary America, a decentralized, defused region; postindustrial, postcommunal, postrural, and posturban--postplace. . .There is the decentralization of anarchist direct democracy in which power is everywhere, an
Well. I liked certain chapters very much, and Solnit writes about themes I really care about. But some chapters got too factual and journalistic, so I ended up skipping them.
Sep 05, 2007 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Left-leaners
I like this book as much for its form as for its content - a book of essays that mix personal memoir, political opinion, history, and journalism, into a readable and unique clutch of statements. I'm always looking for essays that don't smack of "crackademics" or go too heavy on the theory (although there's an essay about following Benjamin's last walk, his escape from France into Spain in WWII, after which he died).

The book is mainly about the Western part of the country, and ends with a focus
I love Solnit. She is one of my favorite authors.

A lot of this collection is really good and engaging, but some of the essays were a little bit boring and kept me from finishing the book in a timely way.

I finally just started skipping things that didn't hold my interest, and that worked pretty well.

Definitely not my recommendation for your first foray into her work, but it's pretty good if you like her and geography and etc.
Jane Hammons
Sep 03, 2010 Jane Hammons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
The essays in this book are beautiful. Not sure why Solnit is not a more widely read writer. I'd stack her up against Susan Orlean any day. Solnit is very up front about her politics, which perhaps costs her some readers. But her beliefs are what drives the writing, so there isn't any way around that. Art, landscape, architecture--she analyzes them all with a unique vision.
Apr 15, 2008 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solnit interweaves so many facts and ideas that reading her books is like eating a bowl of spaghetti -- every strand leads to another. This is a book for anyone who loves the western United States, in all its beauty and all its turmoil. Tough going at times because of her wide-ranging knowledge, but keep trudging because the view at the top is terrific.
Nov 28, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had this book out of the portland library and have been looking for a copy around here to finish it. Its full of beautiful, informative essays on gold mining, the anti-nuclear movement, native land struggles, etc. Relevant for building a case against Bank of America and others who invest in extraction and devastation.
Chris Shaffer
Mar 09, 2012 Chris Shaffer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A great introduction to an amazing thinker, activist, historian, cultural critic, art critic. Solnit's ability to weave seemingly disparate elements into a single narrative is truly powerful and moving. Plus, she's just so good at uncovering the hypocrisies in American history and politics. Prepare to have thoughts provoked.
Jun 13, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure this comparison has been made too often, but as a former Chicagoan living in San Francisco, she's my Studs Terkel, a writer whose wholly committed to and celebrates the virtues of my city I most appreciate while fighting for the ideas I most wish to fight for.
Meredith Warner
Sep 17, 2007 Meredith Warner is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Just picked this up at the Strand this weekend. Picked through it a bit. Solnit makes her way through some territory she covered in "Wanderlust." Yet another great interview on Against the Grain:
Apr 11, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some essays were eloquent and insightful, but some were tedious and repetitive. I'll probably revisit some of the essays in the years to come, but there are many I'll never look at or think about again.
Tattered Cover Book Store
Photographer and author Stephen Trimble recommended this as part of the Rocky Mountain Land Library's "A Reading List For the President Elect: A Western Primer for the Next Administration".
May 12, 2016 Mitch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am in love with her writing. Not as in, I really like it, but like I find it precious and infatuating.
Mar 04, 2009 Cherie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
C Some interesting essays, but a lot of them were way too long-winded and went on uninteresting tangents. Still, some interesting reads.
Jan 03, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in American history, environmental justice, urban planning, landscape and art
Shelves: five-stars, nature, 2009
All the right stuff at just the right time. This book is an incredible collection of Solnit's previously uncollected essays.
Rebecca Solnit, be still my heart. More journalistic than literary, but still mindblowingly brilliant and thought-provoking.
Jul 11, 2016 Keight rated it really liked it
Sep 24, 2007 Pablo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I stole this from Leslie when I was out west. Stayed up late reading last night and, as expected, AMAZING.
Lizzie Simon
Nov 19, 2008 Lizzie Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must read---I can't possibly put into words my respect for Rebecca Solnit and this book.
Excellent book for those who work with and on the land.
Oct 18, 2012 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
awesome perspective, eye-opening, almost lyrical read.
Oct 29, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful essays.
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Rebecca Solnit is an American author who often writes on the environment, politics, place, and art. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications in print and online, including the Guardian newspaper and Harper's Magazine, where she is the first woman to regularly write the Easy Chair column founded in 1851. She is also a regular contributor to the political blog TomDispatch and to LitHub.

More about Rebecca Solnit...

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“The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love. To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak and be perfectly understood.” 162 likes
“The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the sky, the stories we tell.” 89 likes
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