Reviews of Paradise Lust

Paradise Lust is 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

Paradise Lust is an entertaining history of a story we all know, whether we believe it or not. It is also a thoroughly researched and engaging examination of faith’s role in our lives.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Wilensky-Lanford approaches her subjects with respect, enthusiasm and conscientious research, and succeeds in doing what the best one-subject historical studies do, which is to reframe history, freshening up long-familiar events… Paradise Lust is a celebration of the surprisingly peaceful co-existence of such radically different theories.” —The San Francisco Chronicle 

“Wilensky-Lanford’s hero explorers…occupy a fascinating world that is part fictive, part factual, and though their attempts to superimpose the scriptural on the cartographic are, of course, doomed, the inevitability of failure doesn’t deflate their stories, which are all the more compelling for transpiring largely inside their heads.”  —The Huffington Post

“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. …Whether religious or secular, Eden—humanity’s mythic starting point and the paradise lost to our own corruption—clearly haunts us still.”  —McLean’s Magazine

“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 referred to as Eden seekers, a diverse and prominent group of personalities that Brook Wilensky-Lanford describes in her lively new book. She set off on her research after discovering that her great-uncle had once planned to hire a plane to fly over Mesopotamia in search of the spot. The desire to put Eden on the map is a timeless quest to discover our origins, all told in charming detail.”  —The Daily Beast

“Wilensky-Lanford journeys through history the way the Eden-seekers she writes about journeyed across the world, but each sojourn Eden-ward is … a personal journey into the mirage where unattainable desires and reality meet. Lusting after Paradise is not so much about finding man’s origin as it is about having faith in a better future.” —The New Republic

“Paradise Lust is fair warning for anyone out to discover ultimate things, as well as the perfect companion for anyone who’s more interested in who you meet along the way.” —Religion Dispatches

“In this lively, charming survey of attempts to definitively locate a mythic nexus, Brook Wilensky-Lanford does not stint on madcap details. Eden in Ohio? Readers will be believers after imbibing this wealth of folly.” —The Barnes & Noble Review

“Witty and exhaustively researched.” —Associated Press

“Ambitious in scope…Wilensky-Lanford casts herself as a kind of secular seeker.” —The Boston Globe

“Expelled from Eden, wanderlust may have been one curse for Adam and Eve. In this survey of modern exiles, their yearning to go back to the Garden afflicts them with the same intensity. … Eden’s dream fades, theories are debunked, but new ones sprout as this most original of stories remains timeless.” 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. As Wilensky-Lanford notes, “No matter how unassailable a theory of Eden seems, it will be assailed.” But if you’re looking for a sly and entertaining account of the ongoing search for paradise, Paradise Lust is it.” –

“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

“A century’s worth of Eden seekers supplies the land lust in this smart social history, which covers theories both crackpot and credible…The quest for a palpable paradise is a basic human urge, the author says, so Eden will forever tempt us even if we can’t set our GPS to its coordinates.” —More

“Part adventure story, part historical narrative, Wilensky-Lanford spins the history of explorers who searched for the Garden’s precise earthly coordinates. With adept, well-researched prose, she traces how, from four verses in Genesis … scientists and pseudo-scientists, preachers and theologians, have claimed ‘scientific proof’ of Paradise’s location—in Iraq, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, Florida, Ohio, the North Pole, and elsewhere…. Quick-witted and quirky.” —Publishers Weekly

“A freelance journalist debuts with a spirited chase through history, geography and religion [chronicling] the myriad and sometimes mad attempts to locate the Garden of Eden.” —Kirkus Reviews

Advance Praise for Paradise Lust

“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 bright, bouncy, vastly entertaining account; the perfect guidebook to a fascinating land that may be anywhere or nowhere.”
Philip Zaleski, editor of The Best Spiritual Writing series

“In seeking out the seekers for the biblical Paradise, Brook Wilensky-Lanford has created a paradisaical oasis of a book. Read for information, curiosity, or edification, and receive its pleasures in good faith. But beware: there are bitter roots in the milk and honey.”
Andrei Codrescu, author of The Poetry Lesson

“Where was the Garden of Eden? God only knows. But among us mortals, no one knows more than Brook Wilensky-Lanford about the adventurers, scholars, and wing nuts who have told us, verily, that it was in China, or at the North Pole, or–. This is their story, and it is as charming and sly as the serpent who instigated the original Trouble in Paradise.”
Patricia O’Toole, author of The Five of Hearts and When Trumpets Call

“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

“Wilensky-Lanford writes with charm and erudition about a pursuit we take either all too seriously or not seriously enough: that peculiar but utterly human longing for a lost Eden.”
Paul Collins, author of Banvard’s Folly

“There is great pleasure to be taken from Brook Wilensky-Lanford’s affectionate, witty, and carefully-researched survey of crackpot Biblical archaeology, past and present. But the real prize is in the wisdom: including the point that modern science, despite its fancy track suit and pneumatic shoes, chases just as desperately as did the naked and barefoot ancients after their always-elusive quarry, Truth.”
Les Standiford, author of Bringing Adam Home

“Be wary, reader, of this tempting fresh fig of a book. If you bite you shall perhaps acquire more knowledge than you counted on and experience an undue degree of bliss. … The search for a literal Eden is a more American story than you might think. Wilensky-Lanford delivers her comprehensive survey with a wit and levity that serves as perfect fulcrum to the doomed gravity of her subjects.”
J.C. Hallman, author of In Utopia and The Hospital for Bad Poets

“A fascinating book on a little-discussed topic: the centuries-old quest to locate the Garden of Eden.”
Ronald Numbers, author of The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design