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Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Edward Abbey Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Edward Abbey
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (302 customer reviews)

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Book Description

First published in 1968, Desert Solitaire is one of Edward Abbey's most critically acclaimed works and marks his first foray into the world of nonfiction writing. Written while Abbey was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah, Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man's quest to experience nature in its purest form.

Through prose that is by turns passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world as well as his own internal struggle with morality. As the world continues its rapid development, Abbey's cry to maintain the natural beauty of the West remains just as relevant today as when this book was written.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania in 1927. In 1944, at the age of 17, Abbey set out to explore the American Southwest, bumming around the country by hitchhiking and hopping freight trains. It was during this time that Abbey developed a love of the desert, which would shape his life and his art for the next forty years. After a brief stint in the military, Abbey completed his education at the University of New Mexico and later, at the University of Edinburgh. He took employment as a park ranger and fire lookout at several different National Parks throughout his life, experiences from which he drew for his many books. Abbey died at his home in Oracle, Arizona in 1989.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

With language as colorful as a Canyonlands sunset and a perspective as pointed as a prickly pear, Cactus Ed captures the heat, mystery, and surprising bounty of desert life. Desert Solitaire is a meditation on the stark landscapes of the red-rock West, a passionate vote for wilderness, and a howling lament for the commercialization of the American outback.

Review

"Like a ride on a bucking bronco . . . rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book . . . set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty." ---The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 513 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345326490
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (August 21, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005IHAINY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,768 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
156 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine and enduring classic about the American Desert November 15, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Edward Abbey's DESERT SOLITAIRE belongs on the shortest of several short lists of 20th century classics, whether we are talking of classic literature of the American West, nature writing, or environmentalism.
Why is this such a brilliant book? It isn't the originality of ideas. Other writers-Aldo Leopold, Wallace Stegner, Bernard DeVoto, Mary Austin-had already articulated many of Abbey's central ideas either about nature or about Western policy. Bernard DeVoto was an innovator; Abbey is not. Nor is Abbey's anger and fury at exploiters and defilers unique: DeVoto was just as irate and just as incapable of pulling his punches. Nor is it Abbey's overall vision that makes his book so compelling. Again, both DeVoto and Stegner-and especially DeVoto-evidenced a broader and more systematic understanding of the broader issues confronting the West. None of this is accidental. DeVoto exerted a major influence on Stegner, and Stegner taught Abbey in the Stanford University Creative Writing Program.
What makes DESERT SOLITAIRE so marvelous is the almost tactile love and passion Abbey displays for the Desert Southwest. Over and over Abbey summons up specific places, particular mountains, individual landscapes. Although he can write about the desert in general, he more frequently writes about particular spots in Arches National Park and the surrounding environs that help explain his attachment to the West. He is the literary equivalent, in his more somber, reflective moments, of Eliot Porter and Ansel Adams. As a result, what one recalls upon remembering DESERT SOLITAIRE is not words so much as a collection of images.
Structurally, the book only resembles a memoir of his time working as a park ranger in the Arches National Park.
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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Voice Crying in the Wilderness August 10, 2000
Format:Paperback
Edward Abbey didn't like to be known as a nature writer (he was far too proud of his fiction), but after reading this book I would have to say he is among the best. Before I read this book, I had never even considered traveling to the Southwest, this book changed that, and the way I look at nature forever. Abbey has rightfully been called the Thoreau of the American West, this book more than any other shows us why. In Desert Solitaire Abbey is at his best, doing for the Southwest what Thoreau did for Concord and Walden.
One of the great strenghts of this book is the way Abbey weaves together such a wide array of subject matter, which illustrates the seemingly endless variety of experience, in what is thought by many to be an inhospitable wasteland. In a collection of breif chapters Abbey touches on everthing from the incredible beauty of forgotton canyons, the Southwest's past inhabitants, a feral horse, the Colorado river, the perils of industrial tourism, and the story of a man who may have came to die at the edge of a cliff.
In this book you get a great sampling of everything Abbey has to offer, from his stinging wit and dark humor, rage and sadness concerning the destruction of nature, and finally to hope. Edward Abbey has accomplished on the printed page, what Ansel Adams' photography has done for the Southwest. And yes, both immortalize a time and a place that are being destroyed forever, little by little, day by day, but leaving for us a sad and yet wonderful record of what used to be, and why what is left is worth saving. Desert Solitaire is both a celebration and a lamentation for the disappearing landscapes, and hidden canyons that Abbey chose as his own paradise, and if you read this book it may become yours too. Like Abbey's says get out of your cars and crawl in the sand, and EXPERIENCE what nature has to offer, you might just be surprised at what you find.
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87 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I would rather kill a man than a snake." October 3, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
"I would rather kill a man than a snake," wrote Edward Abbey, and I suspect he even meant it. That sentence summed up, for me, this book: it is filled with Abbey's love of the wild desert and its inhabitants and his contempt for modernity and its inhabitants. I think Abbey was one of the early voices in modern environmentalism, and this is a classic book in that field. I appreciate his desert and his writing; even if you are not an environmentalist nor a lover of the desert, you may see why people are if you read this. At any rate, his deep naturalist reflections deserve consideration in our fast-food, internet, climate-controlled, sanitized and artificial age.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I try to imagine a ride along the river... June 28, 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Edward Abbey is a contradiction. A poet when describing the wonders of the desert and the joys of solitude; then he becomes a strident critic of his fellow man if they have the audacity to disagree with him. There is a definite will and intelligence driving the prose, but it is partially spoiled by the rants that Abbey goes on. The book has a split personality; celebrating the wilderness, but using a voice that often becomes so disagreeable that you might want to take asphalt to the park yourself. Finally though the poet wins out and you go along for the ride. I try to think of this book as rafting down the river, enjoying the wonders and trying to avoid the jagged rocks. A little white water is fine; just don't hold me underwater for hours at a time.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Torn Between Two Voices July 6, 2003
By Daphne
Format:Mass Market Paperback
To begin, I loved parts of _Desert Solataire_. Abbey seemed to be warbling between humility, confusion, and utter, unabashed egotism. This is charming, because it is honest, and one can't fault someone for being honest. Also, the man actually did something about his frustration, which is more than can be said for the lot of us.
Moreover, there were sections of the book that shocked me with their incredible, heartbreaking beauty and insight. For example, the chapter "The Moon-Eyed Horse": the writing in that chapter is utterly original and amazing in the complexity it demonstrates regarding both the narrator and the nature of the horse's character - and what it reveals and changes about Abbey.

Abbey is at his best when he gets out of the way and describes how he sees nature, rather than his own mind. Abbey says at one point that when a person goes into the wilderness he or she is at risk of either seeing merely his or her self in it, or just the opposite, seeing nothing but an opposite image of oneself.
This made me wonder about Abbey's exact philosophical position on his own place in nature; furthermore, the passage - in the chapter entitled "Episodes and Visions" - in which Abbey attempts to wax philosophical about civilization and culture was completely lost on me. Maybe it's because I've read too much Heidegger to think that Abbey really understands Heidegger, or maybe it's because I am confused.
I am confused because it seems as if Abbey upholds civilization as superior to culture, and yet does he not admire the American Indian tribal culture that he encounters in the park? How does he even define "culture"? If the U.K. and the United States are merely examples of cultures, then is civilization merely the mark of individuals that Abbey likes?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 1 day ago by goofytigger2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Desert
It contains some spectacular quotations, pithy summaries of Abbey's point of view. Overall, the book is a child of the sixties/seventies and a bit heavy on the desert romanticism. Read more
Published 4 days ago by PeterB37
4.0 out of 5 stars great stories for people who can identify with the author's ...
great stories for people who can identify with the author's views. the author was right on on his fear and predictions of the future of the wilderness in se utah. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Pathguy
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST FOR THE Edward Abbey READER
I log this collection... pure Edward ABBEY.
Published 15 days ago by VPOKIEROSE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Makes me want to pack a bedroll, some grub and a canteen and head for the desert
Published 20 days ago by Judith Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars You just have to love Abbey and his love and respect for the beauty...
You just have to love Abbey and his love and respect for the beauty of Arches!
A great read and a "must" if you are headed out to Utah.
Published 26 days ago by ReTired
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Tribute to Arches
I read Desert Solitaire as my husband and I traveled through southern Utah. I really liked Edward Abbey's prose, although some of his long-winded opinions can be off putting. Read more
Published 1 month ago by GPgirl
5.0 out of 5 stars An iconic book for any wildlife biologist to read. ...
An iconic book for any wildlife biologist to read. It can be a tad dry, but it has its moment.
Published 1 month ago by Connudatus
5.0 out of 5 stars I must read this again ... soon
From the first chapter I felt such affinity to Abbey. Fresh from a camping trip through Utah, i appreciate his descriptions of the beautiful, terrible land. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth Farquhar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great
Published 1 month ago by martha nidy
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More About the Author

Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania, in 1927. He was educated at the University of New Mexico and the University of Edinburgh. He died at his home in Oracle, Arizona, in 1989.

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