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In the early summer of 1898, John C. Van Dyke, an asthmatic forty-two-year-old art historian and critic, rode an Indian pony out of the Hemet Valley, and headed southeast into the Colorado desert. With his dog, his guns, and few supplies, this sickly aesthete wandered, mostly alone, for nearly three years across the deserts of California, Arizona and Mexico. He crossed the ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 1st 1991 by Peregrine Smith Books
(first published January 1st 1976)
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John Van Dyke's book is THE seminal book on desert writing. He is specifically talking mostly about the Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran deserts his observations can be applied to most deserts around the world. He is by profession an art critic, and brings that critical eye to the experience of being in and traveling through the desert. This is the second time I've read this book revisiting it after a couple of decades and am still amazed at the power it has. It is referenced in other "desert ...more
van dyke didn't actually take the brutal desert trip he writes about in this book. he wasn't a rugged frontiersman but an aesthete. his brother owned a ranch that bordered the mojave and van dyke relied on info from him and from books to write the desert. in other words, he dreamed it all up in his head. which made it all the more special for me.
John Charles Van Dyke (1856-1932) was an American art historian and critic. He also had a degree in Law and was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1877, but never practiced law.More about John C. Van Dyke...