Book: American Zion

American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West

Being a proponent of public lands, I was interested in reading Betsy Gaines Quammen’s American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God & Public Lands in the West (Torrey House Press, $19). After watching the events in Bunkerville in 2014 and at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, I wanted to learn more about the Bundy’s rationale. American Zion goes beyond regurgitating events; it breaks down how the Bundys adopted their philosophies. It dives into the roots of their religion (Mormonism) and looks at some extremists within the LDS church, their writings, and how all of it has influenced a large group of western perspectives on public lands. I did have an issue with the broad strokes Quammen uses to paint a picture of the Mormon religion and its followers. While some folks may fall into her stereotypes, I personally know that many do not. Apart from that, the book is well researched and written, entertaining as much as it is educational. By the end, I put it down feeling uneasy about the plight of public lands going forward.