The Monkey Wrench Gang is a rollicking adventure novel with a serious political message. It covers the adventures of four disparate characters who band together to disable power plants and their supporting equipment, which they believe despoil the landscape of the desert. The book is credited with having inspired the formation of the ecological protest group Earth First! A prologue is followed by four chapters introducing the four monkey-wrenchers, then twenty-six chapters detailing their adventures, and finally an epilogue.
In “Prolog: The Aftermath,” a little-noticed figure sets a charge that destroys a bridge between Arizona and Utah as it is being dedicated. The next target, a safety officer asserts, is Glen Canyon Dam. Chapter 1 introduces Doc Sarvis and Bonnie Abzug as they travel along the desert highways of New Mexico, destroying billboards that they consider to have socially irresponsible messages. Doc and Bonnie meet up with Seldom Seen Smith and George Washington Hayduke, who is working for Smith, on a river-rafting trip. After Bonnie and Smith’s other two female clients retire to their sleeping bags for the night, the three men stay up drinking heavily and discover a shared antipathy toward the power plants and river-choking dams that are covering the desert.
Bonnie and the men soon embark on a daring and well-planned series of raids, destroying bridges and disabling bulldozers and other heavy equipment, backed by Sarvis’s money, Hayduke’s skills in guerrilla tactics from his days in Vietnam, and...
(The entire section is 633 words.)