Victor author Marty Essen has a new travel and wildlife book called “Endangered Edens: Exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, the Everglades, and Puerto Rico.”

It will be available Jan. 8.

The hybrid coffee table and travel book has nearly 200 beautiful photographs spread throughout the 155 heavyweight glossy pages.

“I am proud of it,” Essen said. “I created it so people could read the text and look at the pictures as well. It is full of great adventures, and readers will laugh. I tried to cover serious subjects with humor. It is an environmental book, and it is a bit political.”

Endangered Edens has received an excellent reception with great reviews. Although the book comes out Jan. 8, Amazon received the books early and started selling. In Amazon sales, the book has received the distinction of No. 1 Hot New Release in four categories: Costa Rica Travel Guides, Polar Regions, Arctic, and Ecotourism.

Essen’s first book, “Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents,” won six national awards, became an Amazon No. 1 Best Seller in wildlife, and is in its second printing. From “Cool Creatures, Hot Planet,” Essen created a live stage show called “Around the World in 90 Minutes” that he has presented nationally for 10 years.

“The first book had more creepy-crawly things,” Essen said. “I’m a real animal advocate, and I tried to speak for animals that aren’t necessarily warm and cuddly.”

Essen said his first book took eight trips and 13,000 hours to write, leaving him feeling burned out and believing he would be a one-book author.

“My second book was four trips and much easier to write because it was my second, it is shorter and the text just flowed,” Essen said. “I like to use humor, and the book is full of funny stories, although it deals with serious topics.”

Essen said he wrote “Endangered Edens” to thank environmentalists for their efforts.

“Environmentalists need to be thanked because if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge protected, and there would be oil companies in there and it would be a cesspool just like Prudhoe Bay,” Essen said.

Page 57 has a photo of Essen with Hamilton resident Stuart Brandborg.

“I thought it was important to include Stuart Brandborg, being part of the Wilderness Act and part of protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” Essen said. “He really needs to be thanked for all the selfless hard work he has done for a lifetime.”

The chapter called Arctic Eyewitness looks at serious environmental issues. Essen and his team travelled to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They canoed all the way to the Arctic Ocean, spending time in an area untouched by humans. They then flew to Fairbanks, rented a car and went to Prudhoe Bay.

“The most important part of this book is comparing and contrasting what the Arctic looks like untouched by humans and then the pages that show what a cesspool Prudhoe Bay is,” Essen said. “Even before you get there, you can see the yellowish haze from the Prudhoe Bay oil field. You have politicians and oil companies saying ‘If you let us drill in the Arctic, you’ll barely know we’re there.’ But you know the oil companies are up there – you can’t miss them.”

Essen is a self-taught photographer. He used film cameras for his first trips, and now uses digital with multiple lenses.

“Photography is something I’ve always enjoyed and studied – almost every trip means a new camera,” Essen said. “In the everglades, the animals were close and I got good photos off a little camera. It is a question of how patient is the photographer going to be.”

Essen and his wife moved to Victor 1996 and opened up Essen Communications Corporation. They recently took their first vacation in 10 years, and he was encouraged to write about it in the Ravalli Republic.

“I owe my whole writing career to the Ravalli Republic,” Essen said. “I wrote about our trip, and it was a feature in the Ravalli Republic and the Missoulian, and people recognized me from the author photo and they came up to me and encouraged me to write more.

“I researched and found that no one had done a book on the concept of traveling to all seven continents looking for rare and interesting wildlife, so we just continued to travel to all seven continents over three and a half years.”

Essen’s wife, Deb, operates a weaving business called DJE Handwovens. She has a book coming out in April. The Essens also own Encante Entertainment, an entertainment agency that books speakers for colleges.

“When I speak at colleges or grade schools, there are people that haven’t been exposed to wildlife and their value,” Essen said. “Vampire bats have the most effective anticoagulant known to man. Scientists have taken this from their saliva and made a lifesaving heart drug that is saving human lives all over the world.”

Essens said living in Montana is wonderful, but that speaking in colleges all over the U.S. takes a day of traveling.

“It is a pain to do all these flights, but that is a small price to pay to live in paradise,” Essen said.

Marty Essen’s books are available everywhere nationwide and he will be presenting an Endangered Edens slide show and book signing at two local bookstores: 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 at Shakespeare and Company, 103 South Third Street West in Missoula and 6 p.m., Jan. 14 at Chapter One Book Store, 252 Main Street, Hamilton. 

Reach reporter Michelle McConnaha at 363-3300 or michelle.mcconnaha@ravallirepublic.com.