The New Desert Reader brings together a historical cross section of writing about the American Southwest in selections that demonstrate how thinking about American deserts has changed from the earliest times to the present day. Beginning with the centuries-old legends of the Tohono O’Odham Indians, it moves through the foresighted observations of John Wesley Powell, one-armed explorer of the Grand Canyon; continues with the delicate appreciations of Mary Austin and Joseph Wood Krutch; includes examples of the keen activist writings of Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey; and finishes with such contemporary desert writers as Tony Hillerman and others.
A slow change in outlook dominates the book, as attitudes shift from viewing the desert as a place to be despised or exploited to an appreciation of it as a special place, an arena of highly complex natural communities, and a wild refuge for the human body and soul. Comprehensive and brightly informative, The New Desert Reader will be invaluable to anyone interested in the history, literature, and beauty of North America’s treasured desert places.
Peter Wild is professor of English at the University of Arizona and author of numerous books on the Southwest including The Grumbling Gods: A Palm Springs Reader.
Praise and Reviews:
"This anthology has two highly recommendable virtues: it gathers a range of thought not easily discoverable in a week at the library, and it features Wild’s own original essays. Either would be sufficient reason for reading."
—Bill Broyles, coeditor of Dry Borders: Great Natural Reserves of the Sonoran Desert (University of Utah Press, 2006)
"Finally, thanks to The University of Utah Press, I have an up-to-date, authoritative, comprehensive one volume book on North America's incomparable desert places to recommend to my friends when they invariable ask me to name a 'good book' on the desert I so treasure."—Times Independent, Moab, Utah