Michael Cohen

Michael P. Cohen was educated at UCLA, U.C. Riverside, and U.C. Irvine. He was a Professor of English at Southern Utah University from 1973 to 2000, and between 2000 and 2005 was Visiting Professor in Literature and Environment at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has been a Research Fellow of the National Endowment of Humanities, a Danforth Fellow, and received a Distinguished Teaching Award by the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters. He is a writer of creative nonfiction.

His first book, The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness (1984), won the Mark H. Ingraham Prize, University of Wisconsin Press. His second book, The History of the Sierra Club 1892-1970 (Sierra Club: 1988) has been called “a rare book: an institutional history that is nonetheless balanced, impartial, and unsparingly honest.”  Both books were awarded first place in the Utah Original Writing Competition. 

Cohen's third book, A Garden of Bristlecone Pines: Tales of Change in the Great Basin (University of Nevada: 1998), was a finalist for Western States Book Award (WESTAF) in nonfiction. He coauthored Tree Lines (University of Nevada: 2017), whose core is twenty-eight India ink drawings by Valerie Cohen of pines that grow at high altitudes in the mountain ranges of the American West. His brief narratives accompany the images. 

Cohen's most recent book, Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite (University of Nevada: 2019), has been reviewed as “an inimitable capstone to a scholarly career: a metamorphic anti-memoir. . . . a literary amalgamation of science, philosophy, and history [that] finds beautiful strangeness in familiar vistas. His writing is spare, lucid, the excess exfoliated. By situating his personal inquiry into human meaning on a substance— intrusive granite—that resists storytelling, Cohen takes a hard route to grace. A perfect book for mountain people who distrust easy answers to existential questions.”



The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness, University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

The History of the Sierra Club 1892-1970, Sierra Club, 1988. 

A Garden of Bristlecone Pines: Tales of Change in the Great Basin, University of Nevada, 1998.

Granite and Grace: Seeking the Heart of Yosemite, University of Nevada, 2019.