Edward Abbey—The Cutting Edge of the Radical Left

Text excerpted from the book: PROTECTING THE PLANET-Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change (ISBN 978-1-63388-225-6)

by

Budd Titlow & Mariah Tinger

http://www.buddtitlow.com

In the minds of many radical environmentalists, Edward Abbey’s outlandish 1975 novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang, set the tone and attitude for how to best get things accomplished. With an emphasis on protesting environmentally damaging activities through the use of sabotage, the term monkey wrenching soon defined any sabotage, activism, law-making, or law-breaking used to preserve wilderness, wild spaces, and ecosystems. Abbey’s main protagonist, George Washington Hayduke, codified the wants, longings, and desires of the average male environmentalist awash in the frustrations of corporate greed and corruption.  Espousing the usually unheard voices of the “little people”, Abbey’s Hayduke justified his unorthodox, costly, and highly illegal actions of environmental mayhem by saying, “… because somebody has to do it.”

Known for his anarchistic rhetoric and sanctimonious wit, Abbey was often at the center of the hip environmental movement.

Known for his anarchistic rhetoric and sanctimonious wit, Abbey was often at the center of the hip environmental movement.  His writings ranged from blatantly outrageous to sublimely poignant and powerful.  While The Monkey Wrench Gang, fomented such radical environmental groups as Earth First!, his non-fiction Desert Solitaire has been favorably compared to Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac.  

Desert Solitaire is a beautifully told non-fiction piece about Abbey’s year as a solitary ranger in the secluded backcountry of Arches National Park. Now often considered a classic piece of natural history writing, this book takes a variety of tones, ranging from a polemic against development and excessive tourism in our national parks to tales about the exhilarating excitement of river running.   As would be expected from those who know Abbey’s writing, Desert Solitaire is also interspersed with extended musings and observations about the dynamics between humans and the desert environment. Also, in many of his chapters, Abbey strongly expresses his deep-seated beliefs about the foibles of modern Western civilization, the unethical gyrations of United States politics, and the rapid disintegration of America’s environment. 

After his death in 1989, Abbey’s family and writing cohorts unceremoniously buried him at night in the Arizona desert wrapped only in a blue sleeping bag near a granite rock famously inscribed with the words, “No Comment”.  The gesture was fittingly apropos for a man who deeply believed that a man’s life should blend as lightly and inconspicuously into the natural environment as possible.


Author’s bio:For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place — within nature’s beauty — before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. PROTECTING THE PLANET: Environmental Champions from Conservation to Climate Change, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental heroes among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — COMING FULL CIRCLE: A Sweeping Saga of Conservation Stewardship Across America — provides the answers we all seek and need.Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

Author: Budd Titlow

BS, Biology-Chemistry, Florida State University, 1970 MS, Wildlife Ecology-Fisheries Science, Virginia Tech, 1973 btitlow@aol.com / www.agpix.com/titlow / www.buddtitlow.com For the past 50 years, professional ecologist and conservationist Budd Titlow has used his pen and camera to capture the awe and wonders of our natural world. His goal has always been to inspire others to both appreciate and enjoy what he sees. Now he has one main question: Can we save humankind’s place within nature’s beauty, before it’s too late? Budd’s two latest books are dedicated to answering this perplexing dilemma. Protecting the Planet, a non-fiction book, examines whether we still have the environmental champions among us — harking back to such past heroes as Audubon, Hemenway, Muir, Douglas, Leopold, Brower, Carson, and Meadows — needed to accomplish this goal. Next, using fact-filled and entertaining story-telling, his latest book — Coming Full Circle — provides the answers we all seek and need. Having published five books, more than 500 photo-essays, and 5,000 photographs, Budd Titlow lives with his music educator wife, Debby, in San Diego, California.

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