Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Desert Solitaire

Desert Solitaire is a memoir and a passionate defense of America’s last unspoiled land. The book is a collection of treatises and autobiographical excerpts describing Abbey’s experiences as a park ranger and wilderness enthusiast in 1956 and 1957. The opening chapters, First Morning and Solitaire, focus on the author’s experiences arriving at and creating a life within Arches National Park.

One of the dominant themes in Desert Solitaire is Abbey’s disgust with mainstream culture and its effect on society. Another theme which dominates the text is the beauty of the wilderness. Passage after passage frames the natural wonders in richly metaphorical imagery. Throughout the book, Abbey emphasizes the importance of preserving the environment and the necessity of wilderness to the human spirit.

What I Liked

It’s beautiful, lyrical and right on. Less asphalt and more trees. Less convenience and a bit more struggle. Less sprawl and more wilderness. More letting the world be as it is – it’s beautiful and perfect as it came.

What I Did Not Like

The writer is definitely rough on the edges. And even though he does deeply understand the politics of conservation and the environment on one hand…he also doesn’t seem to get the compromises required. Edward Abbey is a great guy to have on your team while leaving the actual politics to people like Howard Zahniser.


Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey 1
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