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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 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,742 ratings  ·  53 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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Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardA Sand County Almanac by Aldo LeopoldDesert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyThe Journey Home by Edward AbbeyThe Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko
Best of Outdoor Literature
4th out of 88 books — 13 voters
Desert Solitaire by Edward AbbeyBeyond the Hundredth Meridian by Wallace StegnerEdna in the Desert by Maddy LedermanEverett Ruess by Everett RuessDesert Images by Edward Abbey
Best Of The Desert Southwest
8th out of 19 books — 8 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,997)
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Erica
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
Jamie
“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.
Caleb
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
...more
Tina Cipolla
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
justin
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
...more
Ants
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
...more
Bob Nichols
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
...more
Susan Emmet
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
...more
Michael
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
...more
Sam Dye
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
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
...more
Emily
Full review & photos on my blog:
http://www.booksuniverseeverything.co...

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
...more
James
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
Linda
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
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
...more
Elise
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
Ed Salerno
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
...more
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
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.
skye
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!
Scott Bischke
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
...more
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
Jamie Grove
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.
Amerynth
A great collection of Edward Abbey's essays on a wide range of environmental topics. I particularly enjoyed his personal reminisces, with the highlight being a hilarious trip to Big Bend with a soon to be ex-girlfriend. Some of his essays in defense of wild places can come across as a little preachy (especially coming from a guy that personally seems to make the rules up as he goes) but the overall message is terrifically powerful.
Katherine
In some respects dated, in others, a reminder of how long people have been aware of the need to protect wilderness and the environment. These essays were written in the 60s and 70s. Abbey--a transplant from Pennsylvania conveys his love of the arid west in his writing. The essays serve as a reminder of how quickly our natural treasures can be changed forever if we allow commercial interests to dictate how resources are used.
Maughn Gregory
From his travel stories to his libertarian diatribes to his Thoreauvean desert rhapsodies to his conservationist lamentations, Edward Abbey's writing was prophetic in the original sense: a call to wake up. As the country's scant remaining wilderness continues to disappear in proportion to the growth of our insatiable consumerism, we need voices like his now more than ever.
Dan O
It is frightening how much of Abbey's 1970's nightmare of the future has come true so quickly; population growth, urban sprawl, pollution, etc. He and I share very similar views on lots of things so I really enjoyed reading this collaboration of his various thoughts, experiences and essays.

Now I'm ready to go explore more of Utah's public lands!
Kathy
Enjoyable but dated. This is a collection of essays written at various times but published in 1977. Like all Abbey it makes me long for the desert. It is a good reminder how far we have come in terms of valuing wilderness. Not that everything is perfect, but the value of open land is no longer in dispute, just how much of it we should have.
jeremy
ed abbey was the rare writer adept at composing both fiction and nonfiction. though the essays in this collection are now over thirty years old, they still read as if they could have been written in the last five. candor, wit, insight, sass- abbey exemplified it all.
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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
More about Edward Abbey...
Desert Solitaire The Monkey Wrench Gang (Monkey Wrench Gang, #1) The Fool's Progress Hayduke Lives! (Monkey Wrench Gang, #2) Down the River

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