The Monkey Wrench Gang

Abbey, Edward | from Multimedia Library Collection:
Books & Profiles

Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang. First edition cover (1975).


It’s a wildly funny, infinitely wise, near to tragic tale of man against the big god machine—man against concrete, steel, man-made lakes and parking-lot wastelands. Flawlessly constructed, imaginatively detailed, faultlessly crafted with every effect looped to its matching cause, it’s a scriptwriter’s dream. What a thing of beauty is Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang.

— Houston Chronicle

Abbey, Edward. The Monkey Wrench Gang. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 1975.

The Monkey Wrench Gang concerns the use of sabotage to protest environmentally damaging activities in the American Southwest. Abbey’s most famous fiction work is an account of four “environmental warriors” liberating parts of Utah and Arizona from evil road-builders, miners and rednecks. The book fueled a new generation of angry young environmentalists (such as Earth First!) who practice monkey-wrenching, or sabotage for the sake of protecting the wilderness. The book was so influential that the term “monkeywrench” has come to mean, besides sabotage and damage to machines, any sabotage, activism, law-making, or law-breaking to preserve wilderness, wild spaces, and ecosystems. (Text adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and

Further readings: 
  • Cassuto, David N. Waging Water: Hydrology vs. Mythology in The Monkey Wrench Gang. In: ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 2.1 (1994): 13–36.