Books by Edward Abbey

Released: Nov. 2, 1994

Somehow it's not surprising to see Cactus Ed (Hayduke Lives!, 1990, etc.) roar back into view, returned from his last resting place under a rock in a lost desert canyon, to fire invective and inspiration at one and all. Petersen, a longtime Abbey friend, has pulled together a goodly bit of something for everyone in this selection from the extensive journals kept by the writer until his death in 1989 (the last journal is numbered 20). Expected are the powerful environmental exhortations, the religion-bashing, the bilious rants against politicos, urbanism, and eastern critics—not that they are any the less wondrous for that. Nor has Petersen, much to his credit, shielded Abbey from his occasional forays into what could at best be called small-mindedness; some might consider his writings on immigration and population matters plain old bigoted nonsense, even racist nastiness. But these pages also contain Abbey's sometimes fascinating takes on art, music, and writing, on life and death, and, revealingly, glimpses into his domestic affairs, which seemed to always be on the boil. (His fifth wife referred to him as ``a damned difficult man.'') Given much airtime, and beveling the writer's hard-edged reputation, is the love Abbey confesses for his five children, although how that translated into deed is another matter undiscussed. But the old reprobate will be best remembered for his deft evocations of the desert Southwest, a land he saw badly abused during his lifetime, a land he tried to protect. Abbey deserves a special place on the long list of American rabble-rousers like Tom Paine and Bill Haywood—as he would no doubt proudly, if cantankerously, agree. (Photos, not seen) Read full book review >