The Desert Year

The Desert Year


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280 pp.,33 illustrations, 5 1/2 x 8 inches

“In prose that holds something of the clear, dry light of the land he loves, [Krutch] shares with us his discoveries and his associations. They are richly worth sharing.”—Paul Horgan, New York Times

“Krutch’s Desert Year stands, with Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire and Mary Austin’s Land of Little Rain, as a classic, must-read work on the arid Southwest. Krutch, a drama critic and professor of English at Columbia, demonstrates that professional training in field biology is not required to write evocatively about the natural world. What is required, instead, is a well-trained eye, a sympathetic heart, and an inquisitive mind. The Desert Year stands as a celebration of an austere landscape, a work of beauty and joy. I recommend this book equally to old desert hands and to those who have not yet had the good fortune to wander among the cacti, heat-blasted arroyos, and sheltering canyons of the Southwest.”—Christopher Norment, author, Return to Warden’s Grove: Science, Desire, and the Lives of Sparrows

“Krutch's Thoreauvian observations of the southern Arizona desert force a renewed appreciation for all forms of desert life.”—Arizona Highways

Now back in print, Joseph Wood Krutch’s Burroughs Award–winning The Desert Year is as beautiful as it is philosophically profound. Although Krutch—often called the cactus Walden—came to the desert relatively late in his life, his curiosity and delight in his surroundings abound throughout The Desert Year, whether he is marveling at the majesty of the endless dry sea, at flowers carpeting the desert floor, or at the unexpected appearance of an army of frogs after a heavy rain.

Krutch’s trenchant observations about life prospering in the hostile environment of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert turn to weighty questions about humanity and the precariousness of our existence, putting lie to Western denials of mind in the “lower” forms of life: “Let us not say that this animal or even this plant has ‘become adapted’ to desert conditions. Let us say rather that they have all shown courage and ingenuity in making the best of the world as they found it. And let us remember that if to use such terms in connection with them is a fallacy then it can only be somewhat less a fallacy to use the same terms in connection with ourselves.”

This edition contains thirty-three exacting drawings by noted illustrator Rudolf Freund that are closely tied to Krutch’s uncluttered text. Together Freund's drawings and Krutch's words tell a story of ineffable beauty.