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The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West
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The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,037 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
Long considered an underground classic, The Journey Home stands beside Desert Solitaire as one of Abbey's most important works. In a voice edged eith chagrin, Abbey offers a portrait of the American West that readers will not soon forget, presenting the reflections and observations of a man who left the urban world behind in pursuit of the natural one and the myths buried ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 30th 1991 by Plume (first published 1977)
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Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardA Sand County Almanac by Aldo LeopoldWalden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David ThoreauThe Journey Home by Edward Abbey
Best of Outdoor Literature
5th out of 96 books — 25 voters
Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyEverett Ruess by W.L. RushoBeyond the Hundredth Meridian by Wallace StegnerDown the River by Edward AbbeyThe Journey Home by Edward Abbey
Best Of The Desert Southwest
5th out of 42 books — 15 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 03, 2011 Erica rated it really liked it
Shelves: southwest
Despite the imperialist and sexist bullshit, i can't manage to quite give up on Ed Abbey, and this collection is one of the reasons why. I'm interested in his unabashed embracing of his own hypocrisies and contradictions, and this book contained some of the most compelling examples of those contradictions. There are evocative descriptions of many places i know well and some i don't know at all. Interesting to read his 30+ year old writing on the necessity of zero population growth as global popu ...more
Feb 06, 2014 Jamie rated it really liked it
“A taste of mountains; I could not say I had come to know them in any significant way. All I had learned was something about myself. I had discovered that I am the kind of person who cannot live comfortably, tolerably, on all-flat terrain. For the sake of inner equilibrium there has to be at least one mountain range on at least one of the four quarters of my horizon— and not more than a day’s walk away.”

All I had learned was something about myself.
Bob Nichols
Jun 30, 2015 Bob Nichols rated it it was ok
This collection of stories is disappointing. Early on Abbey talks about taking his fiancé’s “brand-new Ford convertible, a gift from her father,” on a closed road in Big Bend. It didn’t work out. He wrecked the car going through the many washouts and she left him, for good. The self-indulgence is grating.

The book has too much of what - of overwriting? Rather than being used to tell a story artfully, language focuses on how something is said, not what is said. Thus, while hiking in Glacier and e
Caleb Tankersley
Jun 19, 2010 Caleb Tankersley rated it really liked it
This book had a surprisingly profound effect on me. The Journey Home is a collection of essays "in defense of the American West," but Abbey fills it with more emotion than that, more spirit. A better explanation of the book might be: "in defense of humanity's need for wildness and wilderness; in defense of the spiritual renewal that can be gained from the American West."

This book is not just cheesy nature writing. It's fresh. It's gutsy. And it's a plain interesting style. Abbey inexplicably inc
Tina Cipolla
Jul 30, 2011 Tina Cipolla rated it really liked it
I am a huge huge fan of Edward Abbey and this book did not disappoint. I have been slowly reading through his works for years. I read the Monkey Wrench Gang probably 20 years ago. I read Desert Solitare about a year ago and this year I read the Journey Home. This book is differnt that Desert Solitare in that is is a collection of self contained essays--because it is Abbey all of them are entertaining. His personality comes through so loud and clear in his writing. I can imagine so clearly why al ...more
Ed Salerno
Feb 28, 2015 Ed Salerno rated it it was ok
Each of the essays in this volume stands alone. I give two stars as a whole because while I loved the first few essays and his overall writing style (there are some great quotes early on in this book) some of the essays in the latter half are understandably (nearly 4 decades later) out of date and consequently hard to sit through.

There IS relevance to his overall themes of preservation, solitude and the allure of desert landscapes, but when it comes to the inner-workings and failures of state po
Apr 04, 2008 justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
apart from "Desert Solitaire," Abbey's nonfiction is rather indistinguishable to me, still I've read and enjoyed it, and always take some Abbey with me on trips to the desert--

"Be Prepared. That is my belief and that is my motto. My practice, however, is a little different. I tend to go off in a more or less random direction myself, half-baked, half-assed, half-cocked, and half-ripped. Why? Well, because I have an indolent and melancholy nature and don't care to be bothered getting all those thi
Kerri Stebbins
I'm not ready to give up on Abbey just yet (that's my love for Down the River talking), but this was the first collection of his wherein I can see why Matt (and surely many others) don't, and wouldn't, dig him and his writing style.

The collection wasn't nearly as cohesive as Down the River, and more than "in defense of the American West" it felt like a lot of his words were "whining about the current state of the American West."

Still, I love reading about time spent in fire lookouts, and his pa
May 01, 2011 Ants rated it liked it
Edward Abbey is not going to influence my philosophy or provide guidance for my actions. However, I still read him for several reasons. Abbey has spent time in many locations that I would like to travel to and spend time at. So, the descriptions of places and sights give me incentive to chose one place over an other.

However, do I need to hear another story of how Abbey trashes a car in the wilderness. Not for me.

And, at times, Abbey comes up with a wonderful story/essay that I like to read. So
Jul 22, 2016 Stephen rated it really liked it
The desert is no place for decent men, which is why Edward Abbey likes it so much. Born on the eastern seaboard, on a farm between the cities and the woods, young Abbey was seized by wanderlust and wandered westward. There he found mysterious monoliths, painted deserts, winding canyons penetrated only by the foolhardy, and interminable expanses of prickly plants and even pricklier critters. Prickly might well describe Abbey -- or irascible, or cantankerous, or resentful, even indolent. Most of t ...more
Susan Emmet
Feb 01, 2015 Susan Emmet rated it it was amazing
I don't know about tossing beer cans out the truck window (there are too many along our road - cans and fast food bags and trash), but the themes and theses Abbey explored in this anthology is right-on for then - and now.

Long known is the fact that Big Government colludes with Big Business and Big Military and the result is habitat destruction, land nuding, growing chasms between rich and poor, increased "desire" to have things you don't need, and huge loss and unhappiness.

I continue to admire
Sam Dye
Apr 11, 2014 Sam Dye rated it it was amazing
I must search for an author who is living now who has done the expeditions to find not just answers, but a feeling and appreciation for our land. Edward Abbey had the combination of outdoor abilities, ability to think creatively and the honesty to tell the real story. He was another of Wallace Stegner's pupils in the Stanford Writing program. Is there a similar program developing Western writers now? So I have many questions, but for a book that is relevant today even though written in 1977 many ...more
Joel Hines
Apr 13, 2015 Joel Hines rated it really liked it
Another excellent Abbey book, though not the near perfection that Desert Solitaire was for me. His trademark mix of irreverent environmental commentary and log of personal experience is exceptionally thought provoking and enjoyable. "Wilderness and Freedom" was my top essay within, followed closely by "Lookout at Numa Ridge", his account of many summers spent as a fire lookout in Glacier National Park.

A random non-representive cool quote among many within the book. There's many that are better
Dec 21, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
Full review & photos on my blog:

From my review:

Edward Abbey is an outdoorsman, and a philosopher. I had heard of his novels before (most famous is probably The Monkey Wrench Gang) but wasn’t aware of his prominence as a literary figure in the American West, or of his non-fiction collections, until I began seeing more of his books featured in the shops out there. I picked up The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West and as I flipped
Dec 20, 2011 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I'm glad I decided to read this one again because not only was I reminded that the American West is worth preserving, but I was also reminded of the great experience I had when I first read the book in my high school days. What I mean by that is that I was taken again by the way he used words to convey the what he saw, in terms of locations, people, and wildlife. Abbey must've thinking when he was writing his essays, "I don't want to leave any details out, so I'll describe even the little things ...more
Aug 23, 2012 Linda rated it it was amazing
Ed Abbey wanted to be clear. He is not a naturalist. In the main this book and several others he wrote are narrative accounts of travel and adventure. He defines himself as one who requires open spaces. His descriptions of lonely deserts with tangerine sunsets have served to help preserve great expanses of the American West. In The Journey Home we spend time with him in a fire lookout tower in Glacier Park and on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I loved that he summered each year in Telluride ...more
John Dunn
Jul 24, 2013 John Dunn rated it it was amazing
Eward Abbey could be called a naturalist, but I don't think that's a rough enough sounding description for him. I don't think he ever pressed a flower into his journal. I doubt he ever collected rocks. He was content to explore the earth and leave it as he found it. And if he found it paved he was content to throw a beer can out his car window because, as he'd say, it's already ruined.

He fantasized about blowing up the Glen Canyon Dam, the massive piece of industrial violence that caused the fl
May 01, 2016 David rated it liked it
I would have given this book a higher rating but found the writing uneven. There are some persuasive arguments for wilderness, some well-crafted, emotional statements of what wilderness means to the author but.... Other sections seem like over-written filler. Starting off on an auto biographical chronology the stories soon seem to have no particular order. Some parts you'll want to read again; other make you think Abbey had some notes lying around and just pulled stuff together to make a book. C ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Its been over ten years since I read Desert Solitaire and I've combed through a couple of his works looking for another collection of stories that hit me with the same "between-the-eyes" impact as Desert Solitaire. Well, I found it with Journey Home. To me Edward Abbey represents the second coming of John Westly Powell. He, like Major Powell, foresaw the westward expansion of the U.S. and in the case of the desert southwest instinctively knew that water would be the limiting factor.

It's importa
Dec 08, 2011 Elise rated it liked it
I had high expectations for "The Journey Home," since the dude over at "Cold Splinters," a neat camping blog I recently discovered, absolutely idolizes Edward Abbey. Maybe I should have started with a different volume - I found "The Journey Home" to be a mixed bag. I sometimes agreed with his sentiments regarding the importance of preserving and respecting the back country (he sounds a bit like Jack Kerouac here, whom I have a soft spot for - or maybe it's just that I have a soft spot for my hig ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
This is a collection of essays describing Abbey's love of the West but I wasn't able to appreciate his "leave it as it was" attitude. He paints himself a jerk by throwing beer cans on the roads and destroying a girlfriend's new car. Perhaps the American West would be better of with more of his novels and fewer of his essays.
Deon Stonehouse
Ed Abbey lived life big. He had a passionate love of the wilderness and liked it unspoiled by either governmental interference or development. He saw the land as necessary to the human soul, a place so big and wild it could make us a bit more whole just by standing to pause and look around. Abbey was always best pleased when he could upset some group or political party and the series of essays in The Journey Home is a perfect example of this maverick, passionate, reckless, brilliant man’s absolu ...more
Sue Timm
Sep 15, 2014 Sue Timm rated it it was amazing
I've not read much of Edward Abbey but I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Many are thought provoking and disturbing. Disturbing because, while written decades ago, many of his observations are as true today as when he made them.
Apr 22, 2012 skye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing work. Abbey writes so well, tells such great stories, and shares his deep anger so clearly. It's insane what "we" are doing to the earth and to ourselves. In these essays, Abbey exposes the industry-politician links that serve to stripmine, mountaintop-remove, subdivide, and pave away the world, and cause incalculable health hazards to people. But as long as it makes a profit, it gets done. He talks about fracking here, in 1977. Now it's happening. Our elected officials (almost all of th ...more
Matt Dodson
Not as brilliant as Desert Solitaire, but The Journey Home still has some great moments in it, especially the last two chapters, which showcase Abbey at his philosophic and descriptive best!
Feb 26, 2016 Kasey rated it really liked it
"I found myself a displaced person shortly after birth and have been looking half my life for a place to take my stand. Now that I think I've found it, I must defend it.
My home is the American West. All of it."
Scott Bischke
Apr 27, 2012 Scott Bischke rated it really liked it
A book I read eons ago but based on the number of underlines and check marks, clearly it spoke to me. Anyone who loves Abbey for his great works of monkey-wrenching owes it to themselves to tackle his other works. A great if atypical conservationist, and a curmudgeon who loves the desert--what's not to like?

Here's a quick sample I found that shows Abbey's spirit:
Words of wisdom, often heard at Glacier, whispered through my brain: "Anyone who hikes alone, after dark, is asking for trouble." Be
Feb 17, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it
I liked some of the stories but found myself skimming and sometimes skipping others. Abbey seems like he was quite a character. Also, I'm unclear on why a book "in defense of the American West" features a lengthy story about New York.
Clifford Novey
LOVE it. Stories of his youth- stories from Death Valley where I just visited for the first time recently. Has me laughing out loud at times and so far is a collection of short stories. Verry happy thus far- chapter 9 is next. Edward Abbey didn't only appreciate and write of the wilderness. Read his short essay "Manhattan Twilight, Hoboken Night" (Chapter 9 in "The Journey Home") and prepare to be engrossed in a beautifully written account and celebration of NJ and NYC in the 60s. Quite a surpri ...more
So currently (as of June 22, 2012) I'm about halfway through the book, and I'm surprised at how applicable Abbey's essays are 35-plus years later in eastern Oregon. Abbey's essays deal with many of the same issues featured in the local paper out here (i.e., predation issues with livestock, public access to wilderness areas, etc.). I want to be shocked that these are still issues today what with the passion Abbey displays...but I'm not.
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Abbey attended college in New Mexico, and then worked as a park ranger and fire lookout for the National Park Service in the Southwest. It was during this time that he developed the relationship with the area's environment that influenced his writing. During his service, he was in close proximity to the ruins of ancient Native American cultures and saw the expansion and destruction of modern civil ...more
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“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” 342 likes
“All we have, it seems to me, is the beauty of art and nature and life, and the love which that beauty inspires.” 16 likes
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