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The New Desert Reader

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Copyright: 2006
Trim: 6 x 9
Pages: 336 pp.
Illustrations: 37 illus.


The New Desert Reader

Edited by Peter Wild


The New Desert Reader brings together a historical cross section of writing about the American Southwest in selections that demonstrate how thinking about American deserts has changed from the earliest times to the present day. Beginning with the centuries-old legends of the Tohono O’Odham Indians, it moves through the foresighted observations of John Wesley Powell, one-armed explorer of the Grand Canyon; continues with the delicate appreciations of Mary Austin and Joseph Wood Krutch; includes examples of the keen activist writings of Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey; and finishes with such contemporary desert writers as Tony Hillerman and others.

A slow change in outlook dominates the book, as attitudes shift from viewing the desert as a place to be despised or exploited to an appreciation of it as a special place, an arena of highly complex natural communities, and a wild refuge for the human body and soul. Comprehensive and brightly informative, The New Desert Reader will be invaluable to anyone interested in the history, literature, and beauty of North America’s treasured desert places.

Peter Wild is professor of English at the University of Arizona and author of numerous books on the Southwest including The Grumbling Gods: A Palm Springs Reader.

Table of Contents:


Introduction: Where God Is and Man Is Not
1. First Dreamers: Legends and Lore of the Papago and Pima Indians - Dean Saxton and Lucille Saxton (compilers)
2. Two Dreams Meet: The Narrative of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
3. Derring-Do: The Personal Narrative of James Ohio Pattie
4. The Democratization of Horrors: Death Valley in '49 by William L. Manly
5. Famine Sits Enthroned: An Overland Journey by Horace Greeley
6. The Privileged Tourist: Adventures in Apache Country by J. Ross Browne
7. Moon Mania: Mission of the North American People by William Gilpin
8. Into the Labyrinths: Exploration of the Colorado River of the West by John Wesley Powell
9. Seeing with New Eyes: Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States by John Wesley Powell
10. The Desert Sublime: Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District by Clarence E. Dutton
11. The Southwest as Show Biz: Some Strange Corners of our Country by Charles F. Lummis
12. Second Thoughts: On the Border with Crook by John G. Bourke
13. The Desert as Art: The Desert by John C. Van Dyke
14. A Child of the Earth and Moon: The Land of Little Rain by Mary Austin
15. Something Stood Still in My Soul: Indians and an Englishman and New Mexico by D.H. Lawrence
16. Regional Wholeness: The Voice of the Coyote by J. Frank Dobie
17. A Wild Country to Be Young In: A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
18. God's Hand in the Sky: The Desert Year by Joseph Wood Krutch
19. The Geography of Hope: The Sound of Mountain Water by Wallace Stegner
20. The Ghost of Radicals Past: Abbey's Road by Edward Abbey
21. Waking Up to Eternity: Wind in the Rock by Ann Zwinger
22. The Esthetic of Detachment: Scenes in America Deserta by Peter Reyner Banham
23. Changing Genuine Desert Mysteries: Skeleton Man by Tony Hillerman
24. Teetering on the Edge: The Tangle of Taxonomy by Ann Japenga
Epilogue: Who We Are

Praise and Reviews:

"This anthology has two highly recommendable virtues: it gathers a range of thought not easily discoverable in a week at the library, and it features Wild’s own original essays. Either would be sufficient reason for reading."
—Bill Broyles, coeditor of Dry Borders: Great Natural Reserves of the Sonoran Desert (University of Utah Press, 2006)

"Finally, thanks to The University of Utah Press, I have an up-to-date, authoritative, comprehensive one volume book on North America's incomparable desert places to recommend to my friends when they invariable ask me to name a 'good book' on the desert I so treasure."
Times Independent, Moab, Utah

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