Betsy Gaines Quammen

American Zion

«Betsy Gaines Quammen has taken a deep, fascinating dive into a uniquely American brand of religious zealotry that poses a grave threat to our national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife sanctuaries, and other public lands. American Zion provides essential background for anyone concerned about the future of open space in the western United States. It also happens to be a delight to read.»

JON KRAKAUER, author of Under the Banner of Heaven

“A magnificent portrait of complexity, interrogating the collision between frontier thinking and the rising consciousness toward the climate crisis on public lands. Brilliant and electrifying…Gaines Quammen's voice is bright, engaging, and smart. She listens. She is fair. But she is not seduced by cowboy mythology. Her vision calls for an ecological wisdom that can govern our communities, both human and wild, with reverence and respect.”


«What J. D. Vance did with Hillbilly Elegy to explain small–town Appalachian angst, Gaines Quammen has done with American Zion to help people understand the long and convoluted issues in the American West. With shades of Terry Tempest Williams, Barbara Kingsolver, and Ed Abbey, Gaines Quammen provides an in–depth and broad view of where America finds itself today.»

THANE MAYNARD, co–author with Jane Goodall of Hope for Animals and Their World

«I find the author's sense of the tribal perspectives spot on and sensitive. I enjoyed American Zion immensely—Betsy is a great storyteller!»

WALTER FLEMING, department head and professor of Native American Studies, Montana State University

“A fascinating primer on the twisted and nefarious legacy of theology, entitlement, conquest and patriarchy in the American West. Gaines Quammen offers indispensable reading for anyone who cares about the fate of the nation's public lands.”

FLORENCE WILLIAMS, author of The Nature Fix

“A creative, deeply thoughtful work on the origins, dynamics, and consequences of the Bundy legacy.”

JEDEDIAH ROGERS, author of Roads in the Wilderness

“Historian Betsy Gaines Quammen recounts the history of Mormons in America to help us understand how a painful abyss has formed between some of that religion's believers and management of national public lands in southern Arizona, Oregon, and Utah. Such understanding is essential for those of us working to cross that divide.”

MARY O’BRIEN, author of Making Better Environmental Decisions

“An empathetic and clear–eyed account of the intersections of faith, conservation, and Native rights in the skirmishes over Western public lands.”


“Well–researched and compelling…required reading for anyone seeking to understand the complicated contemporary American West. Gaines Quammen is a natural storyteller.”

—ARIANA PALIOBAGIS, Country Bookshelf

American Zion is the story of the Bundy family, famous for their armed conflicts in the West. With an antagonism that goes back to the very first Mormons who fled the Midwest for the Great Basin, they hold a sense of entitlement that confronts both law and democracy. Today their cowboy confrontations threaten public lands, wild species, and American heritage.
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