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Walking It Off Paperback – 15 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press (15 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0910055998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0910055994
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.2 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,399,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


When he wrote The Monkey Wrench Gang in 1975, Edward Abbey became the spokesperson for a generation of Americans angered by the unthinking destruction of our natural heritage. Without consultation, Abbey based the central character of eco-guerilla George Washington Hayduke on his friend Doug Peacock. Since then Peacock has become an articulate environmental individualist writing about the West's abundant wildscapes. Abbey and Peacock had an at times stormy, almost father and son relationship that was peacefully resolved in Abbey's last days before his death in 1989. This rich recollection of their relationship and the dry places they explored are recalled in Peacock's honest and heartfelt style in this poignant memoir.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Doug Peacock is a Vietnam War veteran, one of the "troubled ones." A familiar script: divorce, alcoholism, drug abuse, violent episodes, capped with an imprimatur from the Department of Veterans Affairs that his post-traumatic stress syndrome is "total and permanent." Should he be proud or ashamed? Indeed, that question is very much part of the book. His book is also a tale of redemption, overcoming the madness that was the Vietnam War, by, as he characterizes it, "walking it off." He does a good job of it, and in terms of physical space, strolling through much of the beauty that is the Western part of the United States, but also ranges into Mexico, and as far away as Nepal. In terms of the `meaning of life' he also ranges widely, calling the subject question a "bedrock" one in terms of the disenfranchised of Mexico.

At one point Peacock was obviously a "believer" in the Vietnam adventure, going Special Forces, a medic, and was on his second tour (!) when it finally "clicked," that something is profoundly wrong. As he relates, on his final day there, stationed in Quang Ngai province, he must have flown over My Lai when the massacre was taking place in 1968. Five months later I was in the next province south, Binh Dinh, also as a medic. I was never a believer, and have often felt that it was those who were who have had the more difficult time when the war was over.

The book is very much Peacock's story, and I am surprised by the other reviewers who call it an epitaph or even a memoir of Edward Abbey. Yes, Peacock's main claim to that will-o-wisp of "fame" is to have been the model for Abbey's character, George Washington Hayduke in
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 21 reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Doug's Long-Awaited Memoir of Abbey - At Last! 30 Sept. 2005
By Cactus Ed - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well I'm honored to be the first person to review Walking It Off. As a lifelong fan of Ed Abbey I of course knew a lot about Doug Peacock's friendship with him. We all "knew" that Doug was Ed's real-life model for Hayduke. What we didn't know, until this new book came out (finally!), was how Doug felt about it. Hayduke may be one of our mythical heroes (I have a Hayduke Lives! bumper sticker on my car), but Doug Peacock is a true real-life hero to me. Doug survived the Vietnam War and then found a way to survive the aftermath when he began his work with Grizzly Bears. He does not "report" on these things; he lives the experiences and then writes about them with great care and passion. Even though Ed Abbey was a much more famous writer, and was older than Doug by 15 years, I'm pretty sure he nonetheless looked up to Doug for his courageous work. Doug's been out there in the trenches, putting out the fires, trying to save the bears, save the world. Heartbreakingly difficult work that most of us find little success in. Doug's work gives me courage and a renewed determination to keep at it. Thanks for all you've done, Doug! And thank you for finally publishing THE Abbey memoir we've all been wating for.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
An Epitaph for Edward Abbey 6 Oct. 2005
By Richard L. Pangburn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Doug Peacock was friends with Ed Abbey, and Abbey made him a character, as George Washington Hayduke, in his books, THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG and HAYDUKE LIVES!

Doug Peacock was with Edward Abbey when he died.

This worthy book is about the author coming to terms with his friendship with Ed Abbey, the death of Ed Abbey, and there is a chronicle of their adventures and philosophy. Peacock distances himself from the one-dimensional Hayduke, and says that while the celebrity of it opened some doors for him, it was also an embarrassment. Peacock says that Abbey was the real Hayduke.

Be that as it may, Doug Peacock is the real Doug Peacock, and in some 200 pages of easy-to-read words of prose he tells a human story worth telling. At turns, this memoir is profound, remorseful, insightful, wistful, and poetic.

For example, toward the end of this book, there is this, from Ed Abbey's journal:

"...my life seems to me a dismal failure. Good Christ! 58 years old and I've never learned to do anything practical, useful, sociable. I am becoming a cranky bitter embittered dyspeptic old fart,,,I feel so goddamn inadequate, weak, helpless, inepts, slobbish."

"GLOOM...and DOOM. Consumed in self-loathing. Bitterness. Disgust with the world of literature, politics, art. Makes a fella want to walk away over the horizon, find a comfortable canyon, lie down, curl up, fade out..."

My thought is, the way this resonates with me is, that Ed Tom Bell, Cormac McCarthy's protagonist in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, is also 58 and just seems older somehow, the way Ed Abbey here seems older. It means nothing, of course, except for the way it resonates personally to me.

Peacock continues down Growler Valley, dreams of a jaguar, sees signs of fox and a coyote den dug into a thick of wolfberry:

"By afternoon, a number of ancient paths converge toward Charlie Bell. . .I see white animals against the black of the Growlers. I take out Clarke Abbey's binoculars and squat behind a leafed-out ocotillo plant. The long-legged animals look like some exotic species of domestic goat except that they are pronghorn antelope."

"Ten antelopes, six of which are males, browse fresh green ocotillo leaves...The pronghorn haven't seen me yet. I'm hoping I can drop down a gully to Charlie Bell without disturbing them. I have to get water before dark."

"At my first move, the antelope look up at me. Sh-t. They begin to mill and move east, finally breaking and running among the rugged hillside boulders as gracefully and smoothly as the red-tailed hawk soaring above. . ."

"Out of ancient habit, I approach the well cautiously. I listen to the birds and crickets. No one else around. Charlie Bell Well pumps water into a tank and then into a cement trough."

"A wave of deja vu sweeps over me. I am haunted by landscapes, the recoccuring images of places that drift through my dreams and startle my daydreaming. One of those is right here, the sacred desert. Sometimes magical wild animals live in the dream and spill over into the physical landscape like jaguars and cougars. I look around: I know the lion is watching me."

Peacock says that Abby wanted to be reincarnated as a desert bird, a buzzard. And on the last page, he comes to Ed Abbey's grave:

"I stare at the boulder. The boulder stares back. Chiseled into the rock: Edward Paul Abbey 1927-1989 'No Comment.'

I submit that Edward Abbey would approve of the comments made about him by Doug Peacock in this book, a fitting epitaph for the man if there ever was one.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Little Bipolar With A Happy Ending 12 Oct. 2005
By North Country Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is long awaited and worth the wait. Chapters alternate between the Hell of Viet Nam and the beauty of nature. The book provides a window into the souls of two very fascinating men. Peacock seems, finally, to have come to terms with himself and, with this book, moves farther from the shadow of Edward Abbey.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best! 11 Jan. 2007
By Airborne Doc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I am currently on my 3rd year in Iraq, so I find myself relating to this book very strongly. I have read everything that Edward Abbey has ever written and have a strong fascination with the southwest US. It was with great pleasure and sadness to read about his final days here. This book is one that I will continue to read and re-read for the rest of my life, as I believe it will speak to the reader differently depending on where they are in life at that moment. If you are only going to buy one book, this should be it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Writer With Integrity 15 Oct. 2006
By Andy Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because I am a HUGE Edward Abbey fan, I really enjoyed this book. It gave some wonderful insights into Abbey's personality, but more importantly, showed me the real person behind Abbey's most famous character--George W. Hayduke.

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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