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Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden Hardcover – August 2, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Paradise Lust

"A pleasure. Wilensky-Lanford tackles her subject with an appealing mix of serious research and tongue-in-cheek humor. Neither too academic nor too whimsical, the storytelling in Paradise Lust is often irresistible." — The New York Times

"Dense, absorbing… [Wilensky-Lanford's] interest in her subject is deep, her narrative is expertly layered, and her interpretations of the seekers’ motives are more than convincing." — Wall Street Journal

"An entertaining history… a thoroughly researched and engaging examination of faith's role in our lives. This is Wilensky-Lanford's first book, and it bodes well for her of-this-world future." — Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Paradise Lust takes us on a fascinating journey - and one that sheds much light on the meaning of biblical literalism. I won't tell you whether or not she finds Eden, but she did find a great topic." — A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

"A gloriously researched, pluckily written historical and anecdotal assay of humankind’s age-old quixotic quest for the exact location of the Biblical garden." — Elle

"Witty and exhaustively researched” — Associated Press

"Succeeds in doing what the best one-subject historical studies do, which is to reframe history, freshening up long-familiar events… a celebration of the surprisingly peaceful co-existence of… radically different theories." -San Francisco Chronicle

"Eden’s dream fades, theories are debunked, but new ones sprout as this most original of stories remains timeless." —The New York Journal of Books

"If you want dramatic pronouncements about the latitude and longitude of the Garden of Eden, you’ll have to look elsewhere… But if you’re looking for a sly and entertaining account of the ongoing search for paradise, Paradise Lust is it." — Bookpage.com

"[A] smart social history which covers theories both crackpot and credible.” — More Magazine

"Part adventure story, part historical narrative, Wilensky-Lanford spins the history of explorers who searched for the Garden’s precise earthly coordinates… Quick-witted and quirky… Wilensky-Lanford isn't satisfied with asking only "where," she also deftly explores "why?"… meditating not so much on the Garden, but on humanity's first steps from it.” — Publishers Weekly

"A spirited chase through history, geography and religion… Wilensky-Lanford has certainly done her homework… A lively journey." — Kirkus Reviews

"In the thought-provoking Paradise Lust, author Brook Wilensky-Lanford explores why this Biblical paradise still fascinates so many… A sly and entertaining account." — BookPage.com

"Scholarly and smart, yet accessible and fun with just the right amount of wit, Paradise Lust is original, impressively researched, and hard to put down."— David Farley, author of An Irreverent Curiosity

"Humorous, meticulously researched and detailed. … an all-around good read." —RagMag

"This charming exploration of the enduring place in the Western imagination held by the story of our Edenic origins is all about the searchers, not the search."—Macleans

"One of the most enduring and mysterious places in the Bible, the Garden of Eden has fascinated people around the world since ancient times. Those who believe that it is a real place are … a diverse and prominent group of personalities that Brook Wilensky-Lanford describes in her lively new book. … The desire to put Eden on the map is a timeless quest to discover our origins, all told in charming detail." —The Daily Beast, a “Daily Beast Must Read”

“A charming, century-spanning journey about the search for the Garden of Eden… This is truly a fascinating read.”—Carol Ann Strahl, Buffalo Rising

About the Author

BROOK WILENSKY-LANFORD is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program in nonfiction, where she won the Arthur J. Harris Memorial Prize. Her writing has appeared in Salon, Lapham’s Quarterly, Killing the Buddha, The Common, and The Huffington Post. She lives in the Garden State. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Edition edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802119808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802119803
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,270,302 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this witty narrative Wilensky-Linford details the folly of literalism. In the beginning God created the Garden of Eden perhaps somewhere in the Persian Gulf, or maybe at the North Pole, or underneath Cincinnati. We meet a variety of characters, some sincere and theologically savvy, others less so, as they search for a literal Eden. Paradise Lust explores the irrational things educated intelligent people can literally choose to believe. A wider question is why the literal geography of Genesis 1-3 is so important to so many.

Wilensky-Linford, a freelance editor and essayist, artfully ties together disciplines as diverse as history, archaeology, religion, science, politics while exploring eccentric personalities.

The book's major contribution might be to provoke thought on how a few verses from Genesis can be used to support such disparate and sometimes absurd interpretations. Some exegetists wrote solely to promote their unique theological perspective while others wanted to promote their home locality. Some were out for fame, some more clearly for fortune.

My attention was caught at the outset by William Warren, first president of Boston University, professor of theology, and Methodist minister. Published in 1895 and enduring eleven printings. Paradise Found: The Cradle of the Race at the North Pole, rested on 500 scholarly sources. Warren recognized that Eden was destroyed by the deluge, and so placed it in a desolate region inaccessible due to changing climate. His theory at least furthered the cause of science by capturing public interest in funding Arctic exploration. He was not deterred by the resulting reports indicating the Arctic was devoid of Edenic qualities.
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Format: Hardcover
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 wonderfully entertaining, a fascinating journey that is at the same time smart and full of wit, a perfect combination of being well researched and told in a conversational style that will make this book fun for every reader interested in the subject.
With a focus on both famous, and sometimes not so famous, seekers that tried to unravel the mystery of the exact position of the Garden of Eden, the reader meets William Warren and Friedrich Delitzsch, among many others, and in the end Brook also comes to her very own conclusion on where Eden might have been and her answer might be surprising.
And maybe we should also look at it from this side - paradise isn't paradise until it's lost. What would happen if we truly found it? Would we be overjoyed? Or merely disappointed?
In short: A wonderful guide book on the age old quest to find the Garden of Eden!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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By wmyers on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Paradise Lust delivers a delightful journey alongside searchers who are alternatively brave, deluded, brilliant and foolish in their quests to find the literal Garden of Eden. This adventure story spans the globe and two centuries, from Boston University in the late 19th century to China to present-day Iraq to the North Pole. The book is meticulously researched, with more than 200 sources and, even more impressively, it walks a narrow path of objectivity - contending with religious history and texts - without a wobble. Wilensky-Lanford also treats her subject with warmth and wit, presenting portraits that can be superbly charming or humorously quixotic.

In chronicling the searchers, Paradise Lust sheds light on how myths are created: what recipes they follow and under what conditions they are prepared and served. Eden's may be a singular story in human history because of its subject, but we can see in how it is told and retold and shaped by hands of nearly every race, era and intention that its form is familiar. Myths seem to bind us in our collective yearning to pierce the mysteries of life just as they are a dangerously effective social currency in the hands of unscrupulous leaders.

One of the most thought-provoking and satisfying chapters of the book examines what might be called the secularist hunt for the Garden by Dr. Juris Zarins, a historian who in 1987 earnestly explained the biblical story in terms of satellite photos, climate science and some penetrating observations on the dramatic transition of the Neolithic Revolution - the development of agriculture and the first human settlements. Readers interested in the history of technology and the origins of civilization will be engrossed.
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