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Walking It Off: A Veteran's Chronicle of War And Wilderness Paperback – September 30, 2005
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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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In many ways, this is a companion volume to "Grizzly Years" (see review).
It is Peacock's further accounts of his life; but it is also about a mellowing, coming-to-terms middle aged warrior who is struggling to transcend much of his war-originated rage by retreats into the Sonoran desert and a return to "The Grizzly Hilton" of his "Grizzly Years" time.
Peacock also does his best to debunk the Hayduke mythology that he had thrust upon him via Abbey's only partially true charicature; the eco-warrior that was really a composite of others, and not much of himself.
Overcoming his psychic scars by walking them off, Peacock writes from his guts, his soul, the guts of his soul. He is a highly articulate guy; there is very good use of descriptive language and use of adjectives here.
He also is one tough hombre. Anyone who stalks grizzly bears armed only with a knife; who gets nailed by a rattler in the calf and hobbles 15 miles back out through the desert sands to a waiting Ed Abbey; and who survives internal bleeding in his esophagus (as did Abbey) at high altitudes in the Himalayas - this guy's got to be tough.
This line from the end of "Walking it Off" may be a vague summary: "I needed to get out in order to look back in"
Highly recommended for those who know the value of personal growth through seasons of solitude.
Extracts: A Field Guide for Iconoclasts
The Cloud Reckoner
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.