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Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment in Primitive Living (Adventures in the Natural History and Cultural Heritage of t) Paperback – January 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Adventures in the Natural History and Cultural Heritage of t
  • Paperback: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Sunbelt Publications (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0932653669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0932653666
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,136,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Includes marvelous preliminary essays by Rider and Lucile South...and an absolutely stunning historical account and biography by Diana Lindsay -- Mystery and Adventure Series Review, Issue 38, July 2005

Reveals secret life of Marshal South...Lindsay's compilation will introduce South to a new generation... -- North County Times, Jan23, 2005

The real revelation here is the richness and diversity of South's desert writings...this book left me wanting more... -- San Diego Union-Tribune, Jan 30, 2005

From the Publisher

Finally, the true story of Marshal South can be told. The publication of all of South’s Desert Magazine articles in Marshal South and the Ghost Mountain Chronicles stands by itself. The articles reveal a desert writer that stands in a league with Charles Lummis, J. Smeaton Chase, George Wharton James, John C. Van Dyke, and Mary Austin. In his lifetime Marshal’s published works include over 50 poems, 30 short stories and essays, 8 novels, 102 articles and poems in Desert Magazine. His works were published in Australia, Great Britain, and the United States—in local and syndicated newspapers and magazine in New York, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, and Texas. The foreword and introduction to the book add new dimensions to the South story that was previously unknown. Readers of Desert Magazine never knew who South really was, and his sudden and acrimonious divorce that ended the "experiment in primitive living" just increased the mystery and rumors. South died soon after the divorce in 1947 and his wife Tanya kept silent for the next 50 years until she died in 1997, at almost 100 years old. Through the years there has been wide speculation about what happened. Even the children never knew the whole story because of secrecy, changed names and dates, and lost and burned records and letters. It was the research for the foreword of this book that unraveled the story of Marshal South. Rider South, who was the oldest of the three children to grow up on Ghost Mountain with its Robinson Crusoe-type environment, wrote the introduction to the book, which includes his memories of life at Yaquitepec. He was almost 13 years old when he left and his memory his very clear. It was a very difficult life, but as a child, he did not know it was difficult. After years of silence, Rider tells the true story and sets the record straight.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
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See all 13 customer reviews
If you love the desert, or survival stories, you will enjoy this book.
JeepMom
This is a story of the triumph of the human spirit and the realization of the American ideal of courage, self-reliance and hard work.
Oliver
I have also visited Julian, CA to see some of the places mentioned in the book.
Ken Danley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richard W. Halsey on February 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
After being quiet for more than 50 years, Marshal South is finally being introduced to a new generation. This book is not only priceless in terms of making South's work available again, it is also a timely reminder of why connecting with nature is vital to our existence. The first section of the book is a short history of Marshal and how his family built their dream on a waterless mountain in the Anza-Borrego Desert. Diana Lindsay has done a phenomenal job investigating and revealing the truth about the South's and what really happened in the end. Then Rider, the oldest of the South's three children, reflects on what it was like to live with nature in the raw during the first 12 years of his life. The rest (and major portion) of the book reprints Marshal's monthly columns that appeared in Desert Magazine. Every one is like a visit with the last tribal elder of a vanishing tribe.

This is a haunting story. To imagine what is was like to live apart from civilization from birth and experience nature in a way the rest of us only dream of draws out feelings that are hard to describe. If we could only do it for just one year...

This book is for anyone who loves nature, especially the desert kind. South's philosophy and words about modern life are more valuable than ever.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
For seventeen years (1930 to 1947), poet, artist, and author Marshal South and his family lived on the remote, waterless mountaintop in California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and is referred to as "Ghost Mountain". For nine of those years, Marshal South chronicled his family's controversial primitive lifestyle through popular monthly articles written for "Desert Magazine". The articles reflected his passion for the desert while praising its early inhabitants and their lifestyle. An acrimonious divorce ended the "experiment in primitive living" and with Marshal's death in 1948, fifty years of silence and speculation followed. Family secrecy, altered names and dates, lost and burned records and letters, left Marshal's grand experiment in obscurity, hidden from even his surviving family members. This was the state of affairs when historian Diana Lindsay brought Marshal's recorded experiences back into public purview with the publication of his writings, gleaned from the pages of Desert Magazine and anthologized in Marshal South And The Ghost Mountain Chronicles: An Experiment In Primitive Living. Illustrated with black-and-white photography, this unique account is enhanced with introduction commentaries by Rider and Lucile South and is highly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in "back to nature" movements and experiments with alternative lifestyles.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Taylor on July 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first time I heard of Marshal South is when we pulled up to the bottom of Ghost Mountain in the Anza Borrego State Park and read the story of the South's on the kiosk there. I remember my young wife commenting on how ambiguous the story was. Shortly after that, within a year, a scathing article appeared on Marshall South in the San Diego Reader that painted him as a cruel controller who tricked his wife into moving to the desert, and that the children were traumatized by the whole experience. The author had done due diligence. She'd spoken to people who knew the family, and walked the mountain herself, the piles of tin cans thrown off the side of the mountain an attestation to the hypocrisy of this being an experiment in primitive living.

Then this book came out, only published because Tanya South had died, and her children, mostly Rider, felt comfortable in rehabilitating his father's tarnished memory. I'm grateful for this book, it lets me get back to dreaming of the magic of the desert, and not seeing monsters where there might be kindred souls.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Beowulf on March 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Honestly, I have always been a water person. I need lakes and streams, and trees. Conifers are best, but oaks and sycamores will do. Marshal South is the kind of nature lover I wish I was. He had no fear of the desert, her hot sun, dry winds, and the lack of water. I admire his wilderness and artistic skills, and the profound wisdom to survive, and even prosper in that kind of environment.

This book is the result of a graduate student who was studying Anza Borrego for her research project, and she became interested in the story of the family that homesteaded Ghost Mountain during the Great Depression. Its a beautiful book full of great photographs, data, stories, and maps. I almost felt like I knew the family by the end. Sadly, there was a dark side to the whole story. I can sense that in many ways, Ghost Mountain was something of a paradise lost. But the lessons learned are beyond description. This book is a labor of love, and not written for a mainstream audience, but I enjoyed it immensely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JeepMom on July 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the well-written true story of the fascinating life of Marshall South, who defined 'rugged individualist' and 'nature lover'. He, his wife and 3 children lived off the land in a handmade adobe house for 16 years on top of an isolated mountain, far from the nearest town, in what is now the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park of southern CA. It includes the entire set of articles he published in Desert Magazine, photos of their lives on top of Ghost Mountain, and explanations of how they lived off the land. Marshall was also a very passionate & opinionated spiritualist, early ecologist and even nudist. If you love the desert, or survival stories, you will enjoy this book. And if you've ever made the steep hike up to the top of Ghost Mountain, you will likely feel compelled to read this book!
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