The Mojave: A Portrait of the Definitive American Desert
The Mojave, as David Darlington describes it, is a "wilderness defined by human ambition, an empty place full of activity, a blank slate brimming with meaning, an overflowing void." Darlington writes of the wide-ranging impact of the human presence on a region that appears to be rugged but is actually perilously fragile and vulnerable. From ranchers to the rise and demise...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 15th 1997 by Holt Paperbacks
(first published April 1996)
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This counter-culture look at the Mojave starts off strong, with the author trying to define the extent of the Mojave by comparing its historic and popular reach to the actual territory of the Joshua tree – the plant that defines the Mojave Desert. But David Darlington loses focus and, apparently, interest in the book as it moves along, and it lurches from condemnation of the Reagan administration to angry attacks on any desert dwellers who don't embrace Darlington's fairly radical back-to-nature...more
I really enjoyed the different contemporary portraits of the Mojave presented by Darlington. His depiction ranges from humorous to stark to otherworldly. Of note is also how it spanned the entire desert, the spaces from Twentynine Palms to the Antelope Valley to Las Vegas and to Barstow were all fairly chronicled. I wasn't always sure if he was trying to make the book a snapshot in time or a history book but, either way, as someone with a deep affection for the Mojave, I enjoyed most every page.
This is the book that got me started. I was living in Barstow and thinking, "what a dump" when I read this. While it's more of a personal journal and isn't terribly accurate about it's facts it does one thing very well, it draws out the faint cloud of a personality in what appears to most to be a blank and empty waste and it does it in a way that doesn't require much effort or knowledge from the reader.
Oct 22, 2012 Annette rated it 4 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Somewhere between the styles of Edward Abbey and John McPhee, Darlington focuses attention on the Mojave desert. Combining natural history with regional history and biography, the author conveys how people have used and abused this unique region and leads to a sense of protectiveness for this harsh, yet perilously fragile and vulnerable location. lj
Darlington includes ranchers, Route 66, Joshua trees, desert tortoises, mining, tourists, military activities, dirt bikers, UFO nuts, and the environment in this very readable and comprehensive examination of the strange landscape known as the Mojave Desert.