"Taking Back Eden" is the gripping tale of an idea - that ordinary people have the right to go to court to defend their environment - told through the stories of lawsuits brought in eight countries around the world. Starting in the United States in the 1960's, this idea is now traveling the planet, with impacts not just on imperiled environments but on systems of justice and democracy. It has brought people back into the question of governing the quality of their lives. Author Oliver Houck describes the sites under contention in their place and time, the people who rose up, their lawyers, strategies, obstacles, setbacks and victories. Written for general readers, students, and lawyers alike, "Taking Back Eden" tells the stories of a lone fisherman intent on protecting the Hudson River, a Philippine lawyer boarding illegal logging ships from the air, the Cree Indian Nation battling for its hunting grounds, and a civil rights attorney who set out to save the Taj Mahal. The cases turn on Shinto and Hindu religions, dictatorships in Greece and Chile, regime changes in Russia, and on a remarkable set of judges who saw a crisis and stepped up to meet it in similar ways.
Spontaneously, without communication among each other, their protagonists created a new brand of law and hope for a more sustainable world.
Oliver Houck is a professor of law at Tulane University, where he has received several teaching awards. In 2005, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Environmental Section of the American Bar Association. He has edited a book on environmental law cases, Environmental Law Stories (Foundation Press, 2005), and he wrote the foreword to Biodiversity and the Law (Island Press, 1998).