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

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

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About the Author

Edward Abbey spent most of his life in the American Southwest. He was the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the celebrated Desert Solitaire, which decried the waste of America s wilderness, and the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, the title of which is still in use today to describe groups that purposefully sabotage projects and entities that degrade the environment. Abbey was also one of the country s foremost defenders of the natural environment. He died in 1989.

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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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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It's classic Ed! A collection of stories about some of his trips down the river...What river? Many rivers, different experiences from Alaska to Mexico.
If you love Abbey, this should definitely be included in your collection.
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Seems to be a compilation of short stories and essys and observations of his of a variety of subjects many of them involving river trips. Typical Abbey stuff and if you like his writing you'll probably like this. Good for before bed or on trips when you don't want to follow a long novel and all of its characters and plot twists. 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. Not bad.
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