Desert Solitaire (book review)

Book review from The Movie Snob

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, by Edward Abbey (1968). I had never heard of this book until a recent vacation in Utah, and then I seemed to see it in every bookstore and read about it in every guidebook. If I remember right, Abbey was a ranger for the National Park Service in 1957 and 1958, and he spent those summers at Arches National Monument in southeastern Utah. This book is about his experience as a ranger in the summer of 1957, and I thought it was a very interesting read. Abbey was clearly a person of strong feelings; he loved the desert and hated what he called “industrial tourism.” In this book he calls for much greater protection for our national parks, and specifically for rules banning all motor vehicles in those parks. If you want to go in, ride a bike or a horse, or walk. He waxes philosophical a lot, and he espouses something he refers to as hedonistic paganism. He has nothing good to say about Christianity in its mainstream or Mormon varieties, although he does admire the Mormons’ pioneer spirit. It’s an easy read, and a great accompaniment to a trip through Utah’s vast wildernesses. I recommend it.


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