The Story of the Last Rustic Community in Metropolitan America


Available Now | Non-fiction / $15.00

Originally published in 1972, Canyon recounts the struggle for survival, against powerful and determined opposition, of a counter-cultural community tucked in a redwood canyon about eight miles from San Francisco. A community of individuals united by the idea of living complimentary to nature rather than subduing it, the men and women of Canyon developed strategies of community organization, resistance, management of resources and political moxie some foolish, some prescient that allowed the community to survive, barely then, and provide what The New York Times termed A blueprint for meeting nature half-way. Mr. van der Zee has added a heartfelt fore and afterword, a reflection on his findings in the small community of Canyon as a young man, through the sagest view of an accomplished writer and grandfather today. ...Canyon has survived and even thrived, often in the face of determined and powerful opposition, in the process acting out some of the most fundamental questions concerning the American national character. How shall we live on this land which all of us, save Native Americans came to as strangers. What comforts are we willing to sacrifice in the interest of freedom?

"Canyon ... is one of the best works of reportage I have read fair, human, skillful in its portraits of the inhabitants ... very dramatic and moving as a story of idealism pitted against rigid concepts."
Anais Nin


"It is hard to admit, but harder still to disagree with the young resident of Canyon, Calif., who said, ‘The earth can’t support the American way of life.’ Yet proposed alternatives to the American way have all too often been at best genial, vague, short-lived and romantic and at worst, dreams or nightmares. Canyon is an exception." 
New York Times Book Review

About the Author: 

John van der Zee is the author of a dozen books, including the best seller The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, The Los Angeles Times, Town & Country and He lives in San Francisco and in Healdsburg, California. 

Photo: John Jacob