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Walking It Off: A Veteran's Chronicle of War And Wilderness Paperback – September 30, 2005
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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"Doug Peacock is a direct literary descendant of Thoreau, with a few genes from Audubon and his mentor, Edward Abbey. . . . His meditations on war and wilderness are painfully apt today."
About the Author
Doug Peacock is the author of Grizzly Years, Baja!, and articles about wilderness preservation in magazines such as Outside, Mens Journal, and Audubon. He lives in Livingston, Montana.
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A mirror onto himself - a mirror to reflect on the tradegy of the Vietnam War, the loss of his companion and teacher, Ed Abbey, and the fragments of a broken marriage. Certainly not easy stuff to grapple with, much less commit to the pages of a book. But you sense in this book, that Peacock is a warrior. Not the same warrior he started as, but a transformed sort of warrior. Much of his transformation happened while he got to know Abbey. Peacock shares his memories of Abbey.
I got the sense that Abbey's portrayal of Peacock as the character Hayduke in both The Monkey Wrench Gang and Hayduke Lives proved to be a mixed blessing to the author. On the one hand, there's extreme pride in being the first, Eco-warrior, poster-boy. On the other, the popularity of this take-no-prisoner, accept-no-compromise Hayduke character only served to paint Peacock into a much smaller corner. He wanted to be something more than this inspirational character for the new enivronmental movement. What exactly that "something" is for Peacock, he doesn't always know. But he knows what will get him closer -- shoulder a backpack and start walking.
We see Peacock's image of himself steadily change while he shares his encounters with the forces which shaped his life. It's an honest self-portrait softened by time and contrasted against a wonderful and rugged landscape.
First, the Abbey stuff was very good. Peacock didn't put lipstick and rouge on the warts--he told it like it was, and for that, he gained a lot of credibility with me. (This is opposed to that other guy, Loeffler, who wrote a similar autobiography that I think Abbey would be ashamed of.) He opens his soul to the reader, which is something that I wouldn't have expected of Hayduke, and for this I am very greatful, as I feel that I understand Abbey much better because of it.
Second, because he opens his soul, we get to compare the gruff and verbally challenged Hayduke to the complicated, highly pensive and articulate Doug Peacock. This vantage point shows how perfectly Abbey nailed him in some regard, and yet how different the paint on the canvass is from the subject. Peacock is definetly disturbed, gruff, stoic, self absorbed (ala Hayduke), but he's also highly intelligent, pensive, and well-travelled.
This is a must read for the Abbey fan, although I'm not sure how much anyone else would get out of it. For this reason, and for Peacock's writing style, which at times became too verbose and poetically strained, I'm giving it only four stars. Besides, there are waaayyyy too many 5 star ratings out there, and I must preserve my integrity, too.
Hayduke Lives!!! And I'm very glad to know it!
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