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The Desert Year (Sightline Books: The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction)


The Desert Year (Sightline Books: The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 33 exacting drawings by noted illustrator Rudolf Freund. Closely tied to Krutch’s uncluttered text, the drawings tell a story of ineffable beauty.

Book News Annotation:

If you could read just one book about Arizona's Sonoran Desert, this classic by Joseph Krutch should be the one that you spend your time with. The author moved to the desert late in his life and fell in love--an affection that shines through each word as Krutch describes the geology, plants, and wildlife as the desert's seasons pass. The text is accompanied by more than 30 beautiful and precise drawings by Rudolf Freund. On a par with Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire or Also Leopold's Sand County Almanac, Krutch's volume is natural history writing at its very best. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

About the Author

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893–1970) was the Brander Matthews Chair of Dramatic Literature at Columbia University for two decades and served as the Nation’s drama critic for nearly thirty years. A Burroughs Medal laureate, Krutch published more than a dozen books, including The Great Chain of Life (Iowa reprint, 2000). A noted illustrator and artist, Rudolf Freund contributed to numerous nature guides and during the 1960s worked at Yale’s Peabody Museum.

Product Details

Krutch, Joseph Wood
University of Iowa Press
Personal Memoirs
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Sightline Books
Publication Date:
8.00 x 5.50 in

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The Desert Year (Sightline Books: The Iowa Series in Literary Nonfiction) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 278 pages University of Iowa Press - English 9781587299018 Reviews:
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