Susan Zakin

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Susan Zakin is an environmental writer who is best known for her book Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement.

Coyotes and Town Dogs

Coyotes and Town Dogs is a history of the U.S. conservation movement since Earth Day 1970, written in the New Journalism style of Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson. Brad Knickerbocker of the Christian Science Monitor wrote: Template:Cquote

After the publication of Coyotes and Town Dogs, Zakin covered Washington, D.C. environmental politics for a series of magazines. Although not as well known as colleagues like Tim Egan of the New York Times, she became influential because of her incisive analysis of environmental politics, and because she was writing for hunting and fishing magazines, at a time when environmentalists hoped to make political alliances with sportsmen.

She left Washington in the late 1990s and worked on a variety of environmentally oriented Internet startups. In 2003, she edited an anthology, Naked: Writers Uncover the Way We Live on Earth, which included work by T.C. Boyle, Joy Williams, James Lee Burke, Carl Hiaasen and younger writers such as Lydia Millet and Stacey Richter. The aim was to bring back grit and irreverence to the genre environmental writing, which, Zakin wrote, had gotten trapped in “a self-imposed ghetto of boundless purity and bloodless prose.” Zakin proposed to revive the tradition of Edward Abbey, which she called “passion without sentimentality.” The anthology includes both fiction and nonfiction, which share an emphasis on narrative and strong characterization.

Zakin’s anthology came out the same year as Sick of Nature, a book of essays by David Gessner. Whether Zakin and Gessner succeeded in starting a new literary movement remains to be seen, but they did solidify their reputations as the bad girl and bad boy of nature writing.


In recent years, her writing has focused on Africa, where she spends part of the year. She is also currently a writing mentor with the Creative Nonfiction mentoring program.[1]


  • Zakin, Susan. Coyotes and Town Dogs: Earth First! and the Environmental Movement (1993) (ISBN 978-0-8165-2185-2)
  • Zakin, Susan. ed., Naked: Writers Uncover the Way We Live on Earth (2003) (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows), p. x.
  • Zakin, Susan, McKibben, Bill and Jordan,Chris In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster (2006).

See also


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