Just as the restoration of Michelangelo's Last Judgment sparked enormous controversy in the art world, so are environmental restorationists intensely divided when it comes to finding ways to rehabilitate damaged ecosystems. Although environmental restoration is quickly becoming a widespread pursuit, debate over the methods and goals of this endeavor often halts progress. The same question confronts artistic and environmental restorationists: Which systems need restoring, and to what states should they be restored? In Earth Repair: A Transatlantic History of Environmental Restoration, Marcus Hall explores the answer to this question while offering an alternative to the usual narrative of humans disrupting and spoiling the earth. Hall's purpose is not to deny that humans have done lasting damage but to show that those who believed in restoration did not always agree on what they wanted to restore, or how, or to what form. With guidance from the pioneer conservationist George Perkins Marsh, the reader travels between the United States and Italy to see that restoration has taken many forms over the past two hundred years, from maintaining and repairing, to gardening and naturalizing. By contrasting land management in these two countries and elsewhere, Earth Repair clarifies different meanings of restoration, shows how such meanings have changed through time and place, and suggests how restorationists can apply these insights to their own practices.
Marcus Hall teaches in the environmental studies program at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He is the winner of the Rachel Carson Prize from the American Society for Environmental History and the Ray Allen Billington Prize from the Western History Association.