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.
Vietnam veteran George Washington Hayduke III returns home to the desert only to find his beloved canyons and rivers now threatened by industrial development. Joining forces with Bronx exile and feminist saboteur Bonnie Abzug, wilderness guide and social outcast Mormon Seldom Seen Smith, and libertarian billboard torcher Doc Sarvis, M.D., Hayduke is ready to fight the power and take on the strip miners, clear cutters, as well as the highway, dam, and bridge builders who are threatening to destroy the natural habitat.
With the Monkey Wrench Gang newly formed, the team sets out to destroy eyesores and protect their environment’s natural beauty. This wildly funny and infinitely wise novel is among Abbey’s most famous works of fiction. It was, in fact, so influential that the term "monkey wrench" became a blanket term for any activity performed in the name of environmental preservation.
Jack Burns is a cowboy and a man out of time. He has a steadfast refusal to accept the what he perceives as the tyranny of the twentieth century world he lives in and instead, Burns opts to ride his feisty chestnut mare across the New West--what was once a beautiful, unblemished land but that is now tarnished by airstrips and superhighways. He rejects contemporary society, refuses to register for the draft, and cuts down any and all fences he encounters.
It is this personal code of ethics and way of being that get Jack into trouble with the law, and soon enough he finds himself running from the very thing that could break his spirit--a fight for his freedom which, if caught, he may have to swap for the confinement of a grubby jail cell. The novel was adapted into the 1962 film Lonely Are the Brave starring Kirk Douglas.