This article is about the book. For the album dedicated to Edward Abbey see Desert Solitaire (album).
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness is an autobiographical work by Edward Abbey (1927–89), published originally in 1968. His fourth book and his first book-length non-fiction work, it followed three fictional books, Jonathan Troy, The Brave Cowboy, and Fire on the Mountain. Although it initially garnered little attention, it would eventually be recognized as an iconic work of nature writing and a staple of early environmentalist writing, and brought Abbey critical acclaim and popularity as a writer of environmental, political, and philosophical issues.
Based on the author's activities as a park ranger at Arches National Monument, the book is often compared to Thoreau's Walden and Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. It is a series of vignettes about various aspects of his work as a park ranger in the Colorado Plateau region of the desert Southwestern United States, ranging from a polemic against development and excessive tourism in the National Parks, to a story of working with a search and rescue team to pull a dead body out of the desert, to stories of river running. The book is interspersed with observations and discussions about the various tensions, be they physical, social or existential, between humans and the desert environment. Many of the chapters also engage in lengthy critiques of modern Western civilization, United States politics, and the decline of America's environment. Although written as memoir, it include partially and fully fictionalized anecdotes.