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Down the River (Plume) Paperback – January 30, 1991


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Down the River (Plume) + The Journey Home (Plume) + Desert Solitaire
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Product Details

  • Series: Plume
  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (January 30, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452265630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452265639
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

6 1.5-hour cassettes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Customer Reviews

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Anything that Ed Abbey writes is worth reading.
Craig Lafferty
A little dated in some aspects though, one essay is about his opposition to the MX missile project of the 80s so that's a bit of history there.
Eastofthemississippi
After "Desert Solitaire" this is my favorite Edward Abbey book.
Elisabeth Keating

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Keating on February 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
After "Desert Solitaire" this is my favorite Edward Abbey book. The essay on rafting the Glen Canyon before the dam was built is sublime and makes you ponder the true value of wilderness to the soul-- a value which can't be tabulated because it is immeasurable.
Abbey's a rebel, defending the West from the industrialists and profiteers. He makes no apologies for being passionate about his cause, and why should he. His passion may not be "fashionable," but Abbey is a true American original, and the kind of person we need more of. His writing is edgy, beautiful, makes you want to grab a raft and head down the Colorado. Nature is where he finds himself-- as harsh and uncompromising as it is, it's real.
I also love Abbey's sense of humor. I wonder if he ever met Hunter Thompson-- that would have been a great conversation. One of the funniest essays I've ever read is in this book: "The Legend of Josiah Gregg." Watching Abbey debunk a book about the life of this supposed great frontiersman had me on the floor. Probably the funniest part was Abbey's interpretation of his memoirs: the way thunderstorms appeared over his head bellowing at him in a purposeful way, the way his campfire got out of control and he fled from it across the plains. His assessment of the Great Plains as a "barren wasteland devoid of life." In Abbey's eyes, Gregg is the Inspector Clouseau of the frontier.
All in all, a great read. Spending time with Abbey is a pleasure.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you have never read Edward Abbey before, start with Desert Solitaire, a previous collection of essays. Otherwise, READ THIS BOOK! It is a great group of stories about aventures Abbey had on the river (the Colorado, usually but not always.) You will come away wishing you had seen the things that he had described, and be able to understand why he had such a love for the Southwest, as many people do.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Howard on April 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read many of Abbey's non-fiction books, but I don't think any of them matches the coherence (as in theme) and consistency (as in quality) of Desert Solitaire. Abbey himself thinks "Down the River" is better than Desert Solitaire, but I think otherwise. A recurring problem with Abbey's later books is that they are collections of his essays written over a span of years, some already published in other magazines and books, this rather makes them disjointed, and the quality of the essays sometimes vary a great degree too.

Nevertheless, the first essay in this book, "Down the River with Henry Thoreau" is one of my favorite of Abbey's writing. It weaves a river rafting journey with a review of Thoreau's life and work, the format is quite original (although I suspect it had been used before) and refreshing. Other essays in this book are not nearly as impressive.

A side note: this book does not include an essay about "rafting Glen Canyon before it was dammed". That is the essay "Down the River" (which is itself a beautiful piece) in Desert Solitaire, don't get them confused. Also, "The Damnation of a Canyon" in "Beyond the Wall" touches on the topic as well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mike Smith on September 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I don't believe this is Edward Abbey's best work, but it is a nice collection of several very well-written essays.

The book includes good examinations of the issue of silt in Lake Powell and a decent look at the Colorado River hermit Bert Loper.

It's a great book to read on river, or in the desert, and Abbey's salty character comes through in every page--though the book does drag a little toward its end.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Allan Stellar on October 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
It is simple: I love Edward Abbey's writing. It is eloquent, earthy, humorous, friendly, entertaining, poignant. It always flows effortlessly. But what is all the more important: I love Edward Abbey's world-view. This book, Down The River, is a collection of essays that mostly appeared in other forms elsewhere. Ed had to write for a living, so he found a way to maximize his earning potential by selling a magazine piece, then resurrecting the thing into a book after a few years. I can't fault him for that: he had to earn a living too. And he lived modestly.

As in all of the "essay books" of Abbey's, the first piece in the book is the best. "Down the River with Henri Thoreau" is the sort of piece most of us wish we could write. I know that during every backpacking and floating venure I take, a book is brought along. Very often it is Thoreau. Abbey did the same thing, but manages to pull off not only a decent exploration of Thoreau's ideas, but also a wonderful travelogue of a river trip.

Read Abbey. In this age of Ipods, Ipads, Iphones, Ithis, Ithat, technopornography---reading Abbey is like being re-introduced to what being a Human Being is all about: We are creatures. Read Abbey because he is The Best Essay Writer America Has Thus Far Produced.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James R. Kane on October 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a longtime Abbey fan, down the river is as powerful and exciting as any. The stories capture the imagination, and are filled with flowing, humorous, forceful prose. a gem to read!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 1997
Format: Paperback
This book provides a curious look into the life of the Colorado river before the Glen Canyon Dam. It is a collection of stories of life (and sometimes death). It is a good read
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