Edward Abbey himself made conflicting claims during his lifetime about whether the events depicted in The Monkey Wrench Gang closely reflect anything that actually happened. As to Abbey’s own involvement in “monkey wrenching” activities, there is no proven record of him participating in a major act of property destruction for an environmental cause – then again, Abbey would not necessarily have made bragged about it publicly if he had been involved in such activities. What seems almost certain is that Abbey’s book helped inspire environmental groups like Earth First! in the pursuit of some of their more “extreme” environmental defense tactics. Perhaps the simplest answer to this question is that we don’t really know how closely The Monkey Wrench Gang is based on historical reality – but the book definitely made its own impact on history.
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