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Publisher's Summary

When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form -- the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry.

Abbey's observations and challenges remain as relevant now as the day he wrote them. Today, Desert Solitaire asks if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.

©1968 Edward Abbey (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Like a ride on a bucking bronco . . . rough, tough, combative. The author is a rebel and an eloquent loner. His is a passionately felt, deeply poetic book . . . set down in a lean, racing prose, in a close-knit style of power and beauty." ( The New York Times Book Review)

What listeners say about Desert Solitaire

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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Can Not Believe I Have Never Read This Book....

My boyfriend handed me this old yellowed paperback that he has been carrying around for years. I read about ten pages and knew I had to buy the audio version. This book was written in 1968 but the environmental theme is timeless and Mr. Abbey's dry sense of humor left me wishing that the book was longer. Many of the places in Utah where he went hiking are unfortunately gone due to dam building ( Glen Ellen Canyon) or overuse by a growing population (The Arches). "The wilderness is no longer wild" as anyone who loves the outdoors knows but the beauty of the National Parks as they once were will live on in this book. I wish I could put on my hiking shoes and travel back 50 years to the Utah Mr. Abbey enjoyed.

48 people found this helpful

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Against the Grain

This is Edward Abbey's best book, a chronicle of his work as a park ranger and a love song to the American Desert. Alternately serious and funny, lyrical and preachy, the book is a loosely structured set of stories linked by place, so that the desert becomes a character of its own -- changeable, unforgiving, beautiful.

Michael Kramer is excellent, clear, nuanced, and well-paced. You get the feeling that you are hearing the author, himself, describing one of his adventures, or repeating a story he has heard.

A beautiful book, memories slightly tinged with regret, like stories told late at night in a bar, long after the jukebox is quiet.

32 people found this helpful

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  • cm
  • 01-20-17

a great reflection on one man's personal reflect

a great reflection on one man's personal Journey. well-researched and thorough. reading this book made me wiser and Edward Abbey quick and witty writing style articulated thoughts I never new how to articulate before and

9 people found this helpful

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Wrong narrator for Abbey

I love this book - one of my true favorites - have read the actual book several times before downloading the audio version. I'm also a big fan of Edward Abbey - both his non-fiction and fiction work.

Unfortunately, Michael Kramer was a poor choice of narrator to capture the real sense of Abbey's prose. I've listened to many of Kramer's narrations of mystery and suspense novels, and he's fine for those. But, unfortunately, all wrong for Desert Solitaire.

I was disappointed, too, by Kramer's frequent mispronunciations, especially place names, throughout the narrative. Many of the local place names are tricky, I admit, but either the narrator and/or audio editor need to do their research!

Despite the unfortunate narration, I highly recommend Desert Solitaire. Better the book than this audio version, but better the audio version than not at all.

77 people found this helpful

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Makes you feel like you are there.

I retired to the west and live within several hours of Moab, I have been there several times on my Harley and never have I been disappointed. And Abbey's masterpiece will let you feel like you too are there but better yet, you are there before all the tourist like me found the place. Sit back and enjoy the west thru Abbey's eyes.

17 people found this helpful

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Interesting

It's a very interesting book, the writer is very opinionated and straight forward. The narrator was great, easy to lists to. I have to read this for AP English, and I didn't think I would enjoy it, but I do.

7 people found this helpful

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An immortal story, narrated beautifully

I will disagree with dissenters of Narration, I loved it. I think His narration style was matched very well with Abbey's Character. We were driving in Utah's lonely desert roads, from Arches NP to Cathedral Valley and Edward Abbey's personal presence kept us great company.....
What a story for lovers of Colorado Plateau; an incredible life described eloquently.

15 people found this helpful

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Memoir of a Psychopathic & Hypocritical Outdoorsma

A generally curmudgeonly portrayal of the "good ol' days" by a "get off my lawn" type as he explored the outdoors in America's West. If you thought the desert was boring to look at, wait until you hear him drone on ad nauseum about it verbally.
The narration was fine, except that the way he pronounced "pinion" drove me nuts (pun intended).

I have listed some examples below to back up my assertions in the review's title:

Psychopathic:
- Kills rabbit with a rock just because he wants to see if he can do it
- Talks about killing people many times including Nukem (sp?) on several occasions
- Has a general disdain for humanity (I kept waiting for an Agent Smith "parasite" speech)

Hypocritical:
States that industrial tourism is bad and that tourists destroy the environment/experience by using vehicles inside the parks and leaving trash behind.
- Throws tire over the rim of the Grand Canyon without a second thought
- Carves his and some unnamed woman's initials into a tree (had he named her, he would have "carved" her initials into print on a page for longer than that tree will live)
- Devotes at least one entire chapter to complaining about vehicles being allowed in the parks, but uses a truck himself instead of a horse or a bicycle like he suggests everyone else use
- Bemoans that Jeeps use the dirt roads (even though he says they should only have rough dirt roads and not paved ones), but proceeds to later talk about the fun he has flying down the rough roads in his truck, and even brags about the speed in which he navigated the challenging terrain

5 people found this helpful

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Head for the hills!!!

I geeked out over this book for days. It was a little slow getting going but then turned into amazing story after story. I will always view the desert, American government, tourists, and nature in a slightly different way. Made me want to sell all my crap and move to the desert.

5 people found this helpful

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I can almost smell the desert

I never heard Abbey talk but Kramer's reading matched the desert so well and matched the emotions of the book so perfectly l am almost afraid to find out what Abbey sounded like for fear of disappointment. Abbey brought the desert alive to me. The descriptions are so visual that I have to forgive the occasional sojourns into railing against society's ills.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Video Guy
  • 10-15-20

I know it's a classic essay but....

Though I'm British I have had lots of trips to deserts of the South Western United States. Indeed, across the world. This book tries to capture the essence of the desert wilderness experience....It tries a bit too hard, to try to show the reader how much smarter than us, the Author is...... Odd but enjoyable.

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  • Bob Turner
  • 05-26-18

We miss you Ed.

Great writing beautifully read. A breath of fresh air in desperate times. Fuck em all!




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  • gareth
  • 01-17-17

edward abbey great

excellent recollections, I enjoyed abbey's style and delivery.as good today as it was 40 years ago.shame he didn't more on the same subject. Thanks for the ride.

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  • ingswarrior
  • 08-03-19

Walk in the wild side

Edward Abbey's jaunts into the wilderness and critique of modern civilisation, especially industrial tourism are both entertaining, thought provoking and inspiring - poetic yet pragmatic, graceful yet merciless, a true must read.