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Edward Abbey

"The few such writers whom I wholly admire are those, like Thoreau, who went far beyond simple nature writing to become critics of society, of the state, of our modern industrial culture. . . . It is not enough to understand nature; the point is to save it."--Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

"The quality in [Edward Abbey] that I most prize, the one that removes him from the company of the writers I respect and puts him in the company, the smaller company, of the writers I love, is that he sees the gravity, the great danger, of the predicament we are now in, he tells it unswervingly, and he defends unflinchingly the heritage and the qualities that may preserve us. I read him, that is to say, for consolation, for the comfort of being told the truth."--Wendell Berry

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. His nineteen books include:

  • Desert Solitaire
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang
  • Abbey's Road
  • Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside
  • Cactus Country
  • Good News
  • Hayduke Lives!

"Following a stint in the army, Abbey moved to the southwest in 1947. He enrolled at the University of New Mexico under the GI Bill, taking ten years to earn a master's degree in philosophy, for which he wrote a thesis on "Anarchism and the Morality of Violence." In 1956 and 1957, and again several years later, he worked as a ranger at Arches National Monument in Utah, spending April through September maintaining trails, greeting the public and collecting campground fees. He stored his gear and food in a house trailer provided by the government, and ate and slept outdoors under a ramada he constructed himself. His first three works, all novels, were commercial failures: so, following the advice of a New York publisher to "write about something you know," he typed up an account of "those two seamless perfect seasons" at Arches and sent it to his agent. Thus Desert Solitaire was born."-- from "Desert Solitaire" by Don Scheese in The Ecocritism Reader

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