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Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  583 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
In this wise and lyrical book about landscapes of the desert and the mind, Edward Abbey guides us beyond the wall of the city and asphalt belting of superhighways to special pockets of wilderness that stretch from the interior of Alaska to the dry lands of Mexico.
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 15th 1984 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1971)
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A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo LeopoldWalden by Henry David ThoreauA Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonPilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie DillardDesert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
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Community Reviews

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May 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding fare from one of the modern age's greatest scribes on the American West. I snuck a peak at Wikipedia and agree with Larry McMurty's depiction of him as the "Thoreau of the American West". Having read Abbey's earlier pro-environmental novels ("The Monkey Wrench Gang", "Hayduke Lives") and travelogues on national parks and the Colorado River ("Desert Solitaire", "Down the River" some years back, I found this gem in the bargain bin at a library sale. Abbey is always dependendable. He wi ...more
WM Rine
Sep 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've devoured most of Abbey's books over the years, but this is the one I return to most often. The first two pieces in this collection provide the best introduction to his work I can think of. "A Walk in the Desert Hills" describes a 115-mile walk across the Sonoran Desert, in search of adventure, wisdom, and water. "How It Was" describes his first incursions into the Four Corners and Glen Canyon area, before the pavement came. "How It Was" will make you understand what got Abbey intoxicated wi ...more
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Abbey--who died almost 30 years ago--trudges, climbs, hikes, slips along several desolate landscapes in this collection of essays that describe the American wilderness. He decries waste and pollution. He is cranky.
But his prose is lyrical and direct. His path often meanders through the Southwest terrain he loves. Interestingly, he concludes the book recounting a camping expedition to Alaskas Brooks Range.
Abbey's book made me want to fill up a large canteen with water and strike out for a dista
Eric North
As always, Edward Abbey is incredibly passionate and observant toward the wild, whether it's the desert Southwest (most often) or the frigid Alaskan wilderness. His honesty and gun-point criticisms of "civilized" society are always refreshing, and consistently over the top; they are not entirely reasonable or gracious, but always hilarious, and somehow resonant within the heart of any thoughtful lover of nature. Apart from the few sections where he meticulously describes the characteristics of o ...more
Sean A.
abbey is a great fuckin writer and if his ideas are taken seriously, a very dangerous writer. are his ideas taken seriously enough, judging by the undeniably sorry state of the environment//world at large i would guess not.
still there is a lot of serious joy and frollick to be taken from his descriptions and natural insight.
great read.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A man grows up with the desert and knows it well: its plants, its rocks, its water, its animals. He walks or drives--more often walks--through solitary places. In parts, the book reads like poetry. In other parts, the arrogance of the author pushes me away. But Abbey knows the desert and he shows the reader extrordianry images.
Edward Nugent
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international, mexico
A great look at what made Abbey the voice of a new environmental and wilderness movement. The essays run the gamut from lyrical, philosophical, richly descriptive to cranky curmudgeon.
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature
He is a writer that appeals as much to my gut as my mind. Best thing about him is that he takes me back to the southwest physically (almost) with him as he writes about it.
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the way Edward Abbey takes the reader along with him on his journeys. I really feel like I have experienced walking and sleeping and smelling and feeling the desert. Lovely
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
the last of abbey's books i had yet to read (with the exception of the out-of-print jonathan troy, forsaken even by the author himself), beyond the wall: essays from the outside is mostly a collection of pieces ed had previously published elsewhere (including national geographic, outside, and those often overpriced time-life books). beyond the wall is not as thematically or geographically coherent as his other works, as in this book he writes about locations as disparate as the guadalupe mountai ...more
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Abby in this less-than-characteristically pugnacious collection of essays casts an introspective eye on the soul of the West and the hearts that long to love it. A trenchant commentary on the decay that cleverly markets itself as our moral society it remain as timely and topical a social critique as it was when it first printed decades ago.

And as bit of travel literature for the mind and eye that yearn for the desert Abby slakes our thirst. I picked up this book after walking one of the canyons
Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Abbey is, hands down, a master of the language. Exact, even precise, yet poetic and highly evocative. Few authors can make me feel as thirsty as he can. Few authors can create such a desire for wide open spaces as he can. Few authors can make me as sad or as hopeful. It is still there, the wilderness, smaller than it once was but not gone. This is an older book, essays written largely in the time of the anti-wilderness polemics of James Watt sleeping with every corporate power lusting after oil ...more
Kevin Spicer
Not my favorite Abbey, but there were moments of greatness; kind of hit and miss, I'd say. These are essays about undeveloped landscapes in the American Southwest, how it feels to be a part of it, though only for a short time, how it feels to be outnumbered, or helpless to those who would rather see it tamed, made useful and "accessible."

My favorites were when I could feel his pleasure as he hiked through dangerous and difficult stretches of desert. I liked his meditations on the monstrous and
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gosh. Anyone who can translate such a humongous love of nature and a healthy cantankerism (heh--if I can make up that word;) about human activity into such well-written prose is a genius. Every time I read anything by Abbey I want to immediately set out on adventure, and this book is no exception. Awesome.

One of my favorite things:

"The planet is bigger than we ever imagined. The world is colder, more ancient, more strange and more mysterious than we had dreamed. And we puny human creatures wit
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book took me forever to finish because I savored it. I'd read it on camping trips and road trips, matching the short story I picked with the landscape I was in. I read about his hike through the desert while I was camping out in the hot desert of Nevada and I didn't have to use my imagination at all but instead felt like I was in the story myself. I read about his river runs after my own river runs etc and the southern Utah ones after trips down there as well. I think I actually ended up re ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A collection of great essays including The Damnation of a Canyon and a walk in the Desert Hills. This book is the source of the e-mail signature I've been using since the early 1990's. From the Introduction: "May your trails be dim, lonesome, stony, narrow, winding and only slightly uphill. May the wind bring rain for the slickrock potholes fourteen miles on the other side of yonder blue ridge. May God's dog serenade your campfire, may the rattlesnake and the screech owl amuse your reverie, may ...more
Thomas Bowers
Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The essays of Mr. Abbey portray individualism in pursuit of simple living and simple enjoyment of the nature of the southwest deserts, the Colorado river, and above Alaska's Arctic Circle. His colorful and descriptive language lead one to a feeling of being present at the location and even drawing one in to the need to be part of such an adventure. He does so inspire the individual spirt and romanticism of individual exploration.
Irene Lapp Ryan
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"May your trails be dim, lonesome, stony, narrow, winding and only slightly uphill. May the wind bring rain for the slickrock potholes fourteen miles on the other side of yonder blue ridge. May God's dog serenade your campfire, may the rattlesnake and the screech owl amuse your reverie, May the Great Sun dazzle your eyes by day and the Great Bear watch over you by night" dear Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey is the environmentalist's apostle. His writings are epistles that invite you to go out and save all that's worth saving from the hands of evil tyrants who seek to "reclaim" the natural world for the betterment of Man. Abbey persuades us that we should really leave Nature alone and let it takes its course. Every word is a treasure.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A spirited and convicting story teller who immortalized the yet untamed American Desert, Abbey realistically faces the environmental concerns of the country while capturing the purpose of pilgrimage -self-reliance.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great landscape descriptions combine with great adventures taken by Abbey in the American Southwest and Alaska to make this a fascinating read. This is a lesser-known but very good piece of work by the famous and at times acerbic champion of wild spaces.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-account
Edward Abbey can penetrate the soul by penetrating to world of outside the walls of civilization. His writing does that as he puts words to adventure and experience. His Thoreauvian attention to detail makes the experience come alive.
Mar 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The desert is an unforgiving, desolate, harsh, illuminating, miraculous place.
Kevin Mcclelion
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic Edward abbey...several classic lines from this book.... My favorite...."and he makes strong coffee, stout and vigorous, powerful enough to deconstipate a sand-impacted Egyptian."
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These are the places of my soul - dry, barren, and teeming with life
Jan 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
this book made me want to go to the desert
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Can't go wrong with cranky old Ed.
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A pleasing compilation of nonfiction stories from none other than grandpa Abbey. I love him more and more with every book I read.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first few essays transported me to the American southwest.
Tracy Murphy
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite Ed Abbey. I go back relatively often to reread.
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Edward Paul Abbey (1927–1989) was an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views.

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
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“I thought of the wilderness we had left behind us, open to sea and sky, joyous in its plenitude and simplicity, perfect yet vulnerable, unaware of what is coming, defended by nothing, guarded by no one.” 27 likes
“Within minutes my 115-mile walk through the desert hills becomes a thing apart, a disjunct reality on the far side of a bottomless abyss, immediately beyond physical recollection.

But it’s all still there in my heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure—they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days to come, like a treasure found and then, voluntarily, surrendered. Returned to the mountains with my blessing. It leaves a golden glowing on the mind.”
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