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Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  28 reviews
It seems that ever since mankind was kicked out of the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit, we’ve been trying to get back in. Or at least, we’ve 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 Darwin’s theory of evolution permanently altered our understanding o ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Grove Press
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Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Who hasn't heard about the ventures of mankind to find the place that went down in history as Garden of Eden. Paradise Lust: Searching For The Garden Of Eden presents a comprehensive overview of theories on where this elusive place might have been and how people have been literally lusting after the answer to this question.
So where was Eden? The North Pole? Ohio? China? Or Mesopotamia after all? Brook Wilensky-Lanford goes on a modern quest which is both informative and at the same time wonderfu
An incredibly fascinating, informative, and entertaining read. Wilensky-Lanford is able to make seemingly dry material spring to life (like a tree! or a snake!) on the page. I not only enjoyed this personally, but found it an incredibly useful resource while teaching my undergraduate world literature course this semester, particularly for framing the relationship between modern times and Gilgamesh and Genesis. I love the humorous stylistic flourishes in this (like starting every chapter with "I ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Frames through which we view the world, try to come to terms with existence. We've all got them, and, for the most part, the ones we grow up with are the ones that stick. But of course there are exceptions, avenues we can take which cause that epiphany, that moment where we can see things in a different light. The best of these are books. What I tend to look for in a book, whether on purpose or not, is a frame I lack myself. Paradise Lust, about the search for the physical location of the Garden ...more
May 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
I thought this would be an interesting, if not fun, read, and generally, it was. The author's writing style was engaging, and she is clearly well educated, but her veracity was obviously influenced by her biases and not quite up to par. And even though there were some far-fetched ideas presented, she misinterpreted and twisted part of the information (said portion of which I am much more versed in than the author), creating a false impression in every particular. I was disappointed that Wilensky ...more
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting history of those who have searched for the geographical location of the Garden of Eden. Brook Wilensky-Lanford offers a thorough history of the search in its many incarnations, reminding me of history long forgotten. I found the information extremely enlightening, regarding the locations assumed to be Eden and the explorers who searched. Her style lightens a rather heavy subject with wit and charm. However, I did find it rather tedious to complete reading.
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I use this book as a reflection of theological and narrative issues that deal with changing perspectives on understanding the Garden of Eden as actual Sacred Land. It also discusses the development of evolutionary ideas and creationist approaches and the shaping of American identity tied to settler colonial experience.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
A history of man's (and they are all men in this book) search for the Garden of Eden, this book has some philosophy (can a utopia ever be a real place?), religion (actually lots of religion), science (archaeology among others) and humor. (Have I used too many parentheses in this review?)

Maggie Dubris
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's well researched, and an interesting history of both the creation myths of various cultures and the appeal of the perfect state that we would like to have known in the past. Lots of things I didn't know, well-written, and flows nicely. Highly recommended to anyone interested in mythology or the Bible as history. ...more
An account at times entertaining and at times frustrating (because of the idiocy of the undertakings) of the search for the garden of Eden.
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone Curious
Wilensky-Lanford takes a subject that, honestly, I was curious about and frames it well in this somewhat obscure book. I quite enjoyed it.
Mark Stephenson
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was both amused by and learned a good deal from this volume which testifies once again of the evocative powers of the first book of the Bible. However I query the depth of this talented young lady's knowledge of Mormonism as shown in her 12th chapter 'The Once and Future Eden'. Why say (in paragraph 3) "Between 1829, when he was first visited by the angel Moroni in Palmyra, New York..."? I understand that the author's world view has no use for angels but why distort the 1838 account from Josep ...more
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden by Brook Wilensky-Lanford
Grove Press, 2011
257 pages
4/5 stars

Source: Received a free e-galley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Where is the Garden of Eden? Is it a metaphorical place, located in the mind of believers? Is it a real literal place that can be located using the ever expanding bounds of technology? Is it at the North Pole, in Iraq, in the United States? Brook Wilensky-Lanford set himself the task of exploring the
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars out of a 5 for a really interesting concept, slightly uneven execution, and a couple dazzling chapters.

Broken up into separate-but-codependent vignette chapters about the different real life searches/"findings" of the Garden of Eden, Paradise Lust is a fun setup for a book, featuring magnetic & messianic personalities, and fascinating historical looks at what each era's contemporary vision of Eden said about the culture & time from which it sprung.

My main issue? The concept gets a litt
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
OK... folks looking for the literal, actual Garden of Eden? Bible-thumping wierdos in pith helmets, right?
In this fascinating study of personal obssession, Ms. Lanford shows it's what makes a person look for paradise important, not whether they find it. Many of the people in her book are brilliant scientists, outspoken actvists and academics. But their fascination with the land of Pishon and Gihon (read the book to explain!) reveals their true hidden passions. From the Florida lawyer who
David Dutcher
My view:

1. Start with pre-Sumerian hunter gatherers
2. Some learn to farm (eat from the tree of knowledge), upsetting old traditions and putting them in conflict with established hunter-gatherer groups in the area.
3. Something bad happens (natural disaster) and the hunter gatherers blame the farmers for sinning/offending the gods. The fertile farming area is destroyed and/or the farmers are driven out into less fertile areas. Everyone suffers. The Eden myth develops.
4. A later, herding society,
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
[i] Paradise Lust [/i] was not a bad read, but I didn't really like it in the end for a number of reasons. I thought the chapters did not hang together well. Whatever underlying theme there might have been did not resonate with me. Everytime Wilensky-Lanford offered opinions rather than straight historical fact, I found myself bored.

If you're interested in non-fiction about exploration and haven't read The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, I'd recommend that one instead.
Sharon Tyler
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden by Brook Wilensky-Landford is a non-fiction chronicle of some of the most notable searches to find the Garden of Eden. The exploits are told with a sense of understanding and humor. It is due to be released on August 2 2011. In reading, you can feel Wilensky-Landford’s own interest in the search, the history involved, and the reasons behind each individual’s search. Paradise Lust does a superb job of giving very different viewpoints and theories eq ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting book about the various people who have searched for the "real" location of the garden of eden. It was interesting to read about all the various places the garden supposedly really was as well as learning about the odd people who were looking for it. The author covered a lot of ground in this book including the history of Christianity, the Scopes Trial and "intelligent design." It was a combination of history book with memoir as she wrote about herself visiting the Creatio ...more
Christopher Fox
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't know which part of the book I enjoyed more: the survey of the widely varying philosophical, anthropological, geologic or theological descriptions of the Garden of Eden; or, the capsulized biographies of the equally disparate men from diverse backgrounds who propounded them. Wilensky-Lanford writes with evident pleasure for her subject and a nicely flowing, readable style, flavoured at times with humour and a wry sense of the absurd. (See the tongue-in-cheek story of the Tree of Knowledge ...more
Fraser Sherman
May 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
2.5 really. I love the topic (the hunt to find the "real" Garden of Eden) but Wilensky-Lanford starts off on the wrong foot by tossing off everything before the late 19th century in a couple of pages. We also get stuff that doesn't quite fit, such as a long trip to the creation museum. Nice try, but not quite there. ...more
Nov 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
An interesting book that explores the many different theories over the past couple of centuries, as to where the original Garden of Eden might have been located here on the planet earth. Makes for fascinating reading!
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
A wonderful book on the search for greater meaning in life and stories of the "location" of the Garden of Eden. This book explains some of the more interesting Eden stories and beliefs and explores our quest to locate the garden. Informative and very interesting insights into human nature. ...more
Apr 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The story of the semi-modern search for Eden - focusing on those who have searched for it after the publication of Origin. Amusing read, with relatively brief chapters and the author seems to do a good job of conveying her interest and amusement in the topic.
Stephen Cranney
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: skimmed
It was fun at first, but then it just became a series of stories about different Indiana Jones wannabees trying to find the Garden of Eden.
Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
First couple of chapters are the best.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I guess I didn't find this book as quirky or as interesting as most reviewers. ...more
Steven Farmer
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2013
Donna Nuce
rated it it was ok
Jul 25, 2017
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Paradise Lust (Grove Press, 2011) is Brook Wilensky-Lanford’s first book. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Salon, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Huffington Post and other publications. An editor of the online literary magazine Killing the Buddha, she lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with her fiance and two cats.

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