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Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (Edward Abbey Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Edward Abbey
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

First published in 1968, Desert Solitaire is one of Edward Abbey's most critically acclaimed works and marks his first foray into the world of nonfiction writing. Written while Abbey was working as a ranger at Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah, Desert Solitaire is a rare view of one man's quest to experience nature in its purest form.

Through prose that is by turns passionate and poetic, Abbey reflects on the condition of our remaining wilderness and the future of a civilization that cannot reconcile itself to living in the natural world as well as his own internal struggle with morality. As the world continues its rapid development, Abbey's cry to maintain the natural beauty of the West remains just as relevant today as when this book was written.


Edward Abbey was born in Home, Pennsylvania in 1927. In 1944, at the age of 17, Abbey set out to explore the American Southwest, bumming around the country by hitchhiking and hopping freight trains. It was during this time that Abbey developed a love of the desert, which would shape his life and his art for the next forty years. After a brief stint in the military, Abbey completed his education at the University of New Mexico and later, at the University of Edinburgh. He took employment as a park ranger and fire lookout at several different National Parks throughout his life, experiences from which he drew for his many books. Abbey died at his home in Oracle, Arizona in 1989.

Product Description


The New Yorker An American Masterpiece. A Forceful Encounter with a Man of Character and Courage.

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 513 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345326490
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (21 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #200,396 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A season in the wilderness it is 29 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
Curiously enough, I found the trail that led me to this exceptional book in a book by French author Yves Berger on the landscape of the American Southwest. Desert Solitaire is something special, though possibly a book with a limited audience made of people who have travelled the Southwest and taken it to their souls. It is a sort of diary of the period Abbey spent as a park ranger in the Arches National Park in Utah. If you're looking for an engrossing plot, well, you won't find it. But if you've been to that area of the world and loved the closeness and vastness of sky and cloud, the colors of the stone, the smell of dust and brush, you will love and treasure this book. And it's all there in the title: the desert and the man.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A loving portrait of the redrock canyons of Utah 5 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
If you have ever gone to a National Park, and been angered by roads that lead to every attraction, and tourists who don't leave their cars, Edward Abbey agrees with you. He agrees very strongly with you. Here he tells stories from his time in the deserts of Utah and Arizona. His description of Glen Canyon, before it was flooded to create Lake Powell, is the best I have ever read of a place. This is a great, almost poetic description of a place, the desert, that Abbey held a special love for. It is hard to read this book and not bring away your own love of the canyons and mesas, arches and dunes, of the southwestern desert.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deserts are not dull 27 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
To many the desert is a dull, lifeless place. Not to Abbey. In equal measures poetic and polemic, Abbey's passion for his subject shines through, bringing the desert to life. Not only does he describe what it looks like, but more importantly, what it *feels* like. Desert Solitaire is little short of a masterpiece.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was the rabbit that bothered me the most..., 19 Mar. 2011
By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER
Edward Abbey has become an icon of the American environmentalist movement. He left the green rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of New Mexico, and felt most at home in the American Southwest. Hum! Desert Solitaire, published in 1968, is his most famous work. It is an espousal of an anti-"developmental" creed; the setting is his one year's employment at Arches National Monument in Utah as a park ranger. He later went on to write The Monkey Wrench Gang (P.S.) no doubt this book is one of the main reasons you have to go through a metal detector and have your bags searched if you visit Glen Canyon Dam. The main character in the MWG is George Washington Hayduke, who is modeled on the very real life, Doug Peacock, a long-time friend and associate of Abbey, and if you want Peacock's side of the story, I highly recommend "Walking It Off."

When Abbey is "on", he is definitely on, and few could write so evocatively of the desert areas of the Southwest, with the implicit plea to: "let's just let things be." Try: "The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante's paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn." Abbey is erudite, and has read of the deserts of the world. How many others have read the works of a fellow curmudgeon, C. M. Doughty, Travels in Arabia Deserta: Volume 1? (p 239).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man who knows how to experience nature 22 Feb. 1999
By A Customer
I read this book shortly after returning from a trip to Canyonlands. I have gone to most of the places that he Mr. Abbey discusses. He describes the land exactly as it is: The most beautiful place on earth. He is very articulate and descriptive in this book. One would not have a hard time visualizing all that he has described. He takes a different view of nature by getting down and laying in the dirt. He becomes a part of nature, not a tourist traveling through. More people should appreciate nature the way he does
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
If I were stranded on a deserted island and could have one book with me, I would choose this one. It angers me, saddens me, offends me, and elates me. But most of all it inspires me. Each time I read it I uncover something precious and unique. It never grows old. If you truly love all that is convenient and commercialized, if you revel in the gifts technology brings you, don't read it. It's too good for you. If you truly love and are capable of appreciating the serene beauty of the wilderness buy it, read it, then cry. For it's all gone. When you read, read beneath the text. Read deeply into the subtext of this book. It's all about surfaces. Abbey proves that we cannot truly see, experience or appreciate anything unless we can look below the surface as he did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In Desert Solitaire, Abbey puts to words my feelings every time I've visited the desert- "the ideal place, the right place, the one true home." He captures the beauty, but also the grit, the isolation and sparseness, the simplicity-- and the wonder. At moments, Abbey's novel is an expression of humility in the face of perfection, at others, an all-out rage against the raping of these lands for purposes of economic gain and tourism for the masses. If you're looking for a pretty travelogue, don't bother. If you truly love the Desert Southwest, or any of our last remaining fragments of true wilderness, and hurt every time you see the land treated with ignorance and disrespect, you'll love this book. We need more voices like Abbey's.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rated as a modern classic
A very informative book it has certainly made me want to visit and see for myself before this wilderness disappears
Published 1 month ago by tricoancilate
4.0 out of 5 stars OK but no amazing enlightenment
I'd heard this book spoken of as some great spiritual insight. I've been round the Arches park and was keen to read it, but it is much less profound than I expected. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Broken iPod owner
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull writing from self centred, selfish person
Interesting glimpse into wilderness, but author is totally self absorbed and easy to quickly get fed up with his belief that his way of thinking is right and everybody else is an... Read more
Published 16 months ago by WebSanity
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply great
Gripping nature writing with sharp observation and a great sense of humour. The dust, the cows, the horses, the canyons, the campfires... Read more
Published on 7 Nov. 2012 by Crimebuff
5.0 out of 5 stars IT FLOWS WITH MY DREAMS
I bought this book after reading a statement by the author sent to me by a like minded soul. If you have any interest in saving your planet or your heritage then this will... Read more
Published on 14 Mar. 2011 by Ed
5.0 out of 5 stars Akin to Thoreau's WALDEN, but of a drier place
"There are mountain men, there are men of the sea, and there are desert rats. I am a desert rat." - Edward Abbey in DESERT SOLITAIRE

I'm not sure if I've ever read... Read more
Published on 24 Aug. 2009 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Under a blood red sky
The land of dust..of sagebrush and mesas...of prickly pear and diamondbacks found its most eloquent champion in Edward Abbey. Read more
Published on 20 May 2006 by Jago Wells
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but do not follow his example
This is a totally enjoyable and recommended book. My only problem is that the author as a National Park System ranger does so many dangerous things that cannot be condoned. Read more
Published on 17 July 1999
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