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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 (283 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: #17,755 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
154 of 165 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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61 of 64 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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59 of 66 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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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While in the main I loved this book, Abbey's hypocritical nature had me fuming at times. He makes fun of tourists for scratching their names in sandstone (rightfully), but then goes ahead and carves his name in trees. He makes fun of tourists for littering (rightfully), and a few chapters later describes rolling a tire into the Grand Canyon (nearly missing a mule train!). The book is riddled with other such examples. The thing is: I'm not sure he even recognized these glaring contridictions. But aside from not really liking HIM, I loved the BOOK... the last chapter left me weeping...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful language and he doesn't hold back
Having just been to Arches, I really enjoyed his beautiful word pictures of the parks in that area. He is plain spoken in other parts, when he talks about what we need to do to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by DonD
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Good read, especially if you enjoy soloing in the wilderness. Abbey has a very unique and insightful view of society and the natural world. Def rec this book.
Published 1 month ago by Clayton Bell
1.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended
I bought this for my son because it was a required reading in one of his college classes. He wasn't impressed. I only recommend it if it is assigned for a class. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic for new and old generations of wilderness lovers.
Thirty years after my first reading of this book, I read it again on my Kindle. As moving and relevant as ever, a must read for anyone who loves the red rock country of the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Took me into a new natural world
Great book! Loved that it took me into a desert world with which I have had not experience, and Abbey's narrative of everyday life in the desert was fascinating.
Published 1 month ago by Caeli's mom
4.0 out of 5 stars slow start , gets interesting as you get along
I like the in-depth descriptions of the desert scene, varmints, birds, plants, trees, I've been there, brings back a lot of memories.
Published 1 month ago by Tom Fischer
5.0 out of 5 stars Never finish this book
I've been returning to this book for almost 20 years. It has inspired travel and adventure and getting lost in the wilderness. In all that time I never finished the book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Apollo
4.0 out of 5 stars His words brought the desert to life
A true reading experience lonely quiet open expanse of danger and beauty
Felt like I was at their side feeling the adventure ahead
Published 2 months ago by john brewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, too many pages wasted being provocative
Abbey warns us right in the introduction -- he has every intention of getting our goat: “I quite agree that much of the book will seem coarse, rude, bad-tempered, violently... Read more
Published 3 months ago by VG
1.0 out of 5 stars explanation of desert life!
Great descriptions of the wild beauty of the Western Desert !!! A great read, especially if you have only had time to visit the desert through the years
Published 3 months ago by Pris
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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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