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Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  252 ratings  ·  32 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 ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 18th 2007 by University of California Press (first published 2007)
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Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-nature
I want to tell everyone who has just been introduced to Solnit's work to start with her books on environmental activism. Although dense, these essays are beautifully written and are so much more engaging than her more popular books on feminism. I admire how much Solnit knows about her city, San Francisco. I think her writing in this is an amazing example of what it means to pay attention and also reminded me of Jenny Odell's "How to Do Nothing". I feel as if her ideas in this book could very ...more
Nov 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
blue-collared mind
Nov 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 had noted that I lived in 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 at another outside voice come to tell our story but after leafing through it, I bought it anyway and went back to my quiet hotel and read it ...more
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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: ...more
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is the Solnit collection that took me the LONGEST to get through. And I do love her writing. Some of these essays are great and others are very dense, dated or otherwise didn't really hold my interest.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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, ...more
Jun 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Chris Shaffer
Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jane Hammons
Sep 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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.
Meredith Warner
Sep 17, 2007 is currently reading it
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:
Mar 19, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: abandoned
Technical difficulties with the e-book
Lizzie Simon
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read---I can't possibly put into words my respect for Rebecca Solnit and this book.
Braden Bernards
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
awesome perspective, eye-opening, almost lyrical read.
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".
Feb 26, 2013 added it
Excellent book for those who work with and on the land.
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am in love with her writing. Not as in, I really like it, but like I find it precious and infatuating.
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I stole this from Leslie when I was out west. Stayed up late reading last night and, as expected, AMAZING.
Mar 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Rebecca Solnit, be still my heart. More journalistic than literary, but still mindblowingly brilliant and thought-provoking.
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Writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including Call Them By Their True Names(Winner of the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction), Cinderella Liberator, Men Explain Things to Me, The Mother of All Questions, and Hope in ...more
“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.” 255 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.” 133 likes
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