The Man Who Created Paradise
A Fable

By Gene Logsdon
Foreword by Wendell Berry
Photography by Gregory Spaid

“This, then, is a book of two visions: one of disease, one of health. Or to put it another way, Gene Logsdon has had the generosity and the courage to allow a vision of Hell to call forth in himself its natural opposite.”

Wendell Berry

“This book is a work of social, ecological, and moral imagination—a reminder that we do not live in the only or the best possible world.”

Jedediah Purdy

“If you're feeling despairing, this book is the tonic. The American equivalent of Jean Giono's The Man Who Planted Trees, this slim volume should be read aloud at kitchen tables and over the radio until it becomes a national legend—a legend we might then try to live up to.”

Bill McKibben

“A metal grinder at a foundry possessing the pre-requisites for an agrarian mind becomes an artist on an exploited landscape and brings it back to become a working farm. Well, there is hope.”

Wes Jackson

Gene Logsdon’s The Man Who Created Paradise is a message of hope at a time when the sustainability of the earth appears to many to be hopeless. The fable, inspired by a true story, tells how young Wally Spero looked at one of the bleakest places in America—the strip-mined spoil banks of southeastern Ohio—and saw in it his escape from the drudgery of his factory job. He bought an old bulldozer and used the machine to carve patiently, acre by acre, a beautiful little farm out of a seemingly worthless wasteland.

This charming story is the purest distillation yet of what Gene Logsdon has been writing as a journalist and author through the course of some twenty books of nonfiction and hundreds of magazine articles. Environmental restoration is the task of our time. The work of healing our land begins in our own backyards and farms, in our neighborhoods and our regions. Humans can turn the earth into a veritable paradise—if they really want to.

Noted photographer Gregory Spaid retraced the trail that Logsdon traveled when he was inspired to write The Man Who Created Paradise. His photographs evoke the same soulful yearning for wholeness, for ties to land and community, that infuses the fable’s hopeful, poetic prose. Seldom have words and images complemented each other so well.

Gene Logsdon lives and raises sheep in north–central Ohio with his wife, Carol. He has written twenty–five books, most recently a novel, The Lords of Folly; a cultural study, The Mother of All Art: Agrarianism and the Artistic Impulse; three memoirs: You Can Go Home Again, The Contrary Farmer, and The Pond Lover; and a book on experimental ideas in farming, All Flesh Is Grass. Gene blogs at

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Related Subjects

Nature · Fiction · Literature · American Literature · Ohio and Regional



Retail price: $20.00, S.
Release date: Dec. 2001
24 illus. · 72 pages · 6 × 8½ in.
Rights: World


Retail price: $14.95, T.
Release date: Sep. 2017
24 illus. · 72 pages · 5 × 7 in.
Rights: World


Release date: Sep. 2017
24 illus. · ≅ 72 pages
Rights: World

Additional Praise for The Man Who Created Paradise

“If you look hard at rural America, you can’t help seeing the scarred land and battered communities, and you can’t help wondering how we might begin the work of healing. Here’s how, Gene Logsdon suggests—not by going backward to some supposedly idyllic past but by moving forward to a way of life that is respectful of natural limits, inventive, cooperative, low-tech, and local. This big-hearted parable about a land and people restored is sure to lift the spirits of anyone who cares about the blooming earth.”

Scott Russell Sanders

The Man Who Created Paradise is an art object of a book, a perfect birthday gift, a fable to read over and over because it identifies the rural psyche gone awry and made right again. Much like Wes Jackson's Altars of Unhewn Stone, it cries out for greater circulation…”

Acres USA

“Utopian dreaming? Maybe, but Logsdon shows that the technology exists to make Spero's vision a reality.”