An American author known for his advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies. One of Abbey’s best-known novels, The Monkey Wrench Gang, has been cited as an inspiration by the radical environmental groups Earth First and ELF. The novel centers on a small group of eco-warriors who travel the American West attempting to put the brakes on uncontrolled human expansion by committing acts of ecotage, or sabotage on behalf of ecology, against industrial development projects. Abbey claimed the novel was written merely to “entertain and amuse,” and was intended as symbolic satire. Others saw it as a how-to guide, as the main characters burn billboards and attack things, such as road-building equipment. Based on his writings and statements—and in a few cases, his actions—many believe that Abbey condoned ecotage.
Desert Solitaire is regarded as one of the finest nature narratives in American literature. In it, Abbey vividly describes the physical landscapes of Southern Utah and delights in his isolation as a backcountry park ranger, recounting adventures in the nearby canyon country and mountains.
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