Desert Solitaire lives on because it is a work that reflects profound love of nature and a bitter abhorrence of all that would desecrate it. "Abbey is one of our very best writers about wilderness country," observed Wallace Stegner in the Los Angeles Times Book Review ; "he is also a gadfly with a stinger like a scorpion." "This book may well seem like a ride on a bucking bronco," added Edwin May Teale in the New York Times . "It is rough, tough, combative ... passionately felt, deeply poetic." But perhaps the spirit of the man, the work, and the circumstances of its writing were best summarized by Larry McMurtry in his review for the Washington Post : "Edward Abbey is the Thoreau of the American West."
In poor health in the 1980s, Abbey was at one point given a terminal cancer diagnosis and told he had six months to live. The diagnosis proved erroneous, however, and Abbey lived to complete several more books—essay collections and several novels, including the autobiographical The Fool's Progress and the posthumously published Hayduke Lives! (1990, featuring characters from The Monkey Wrench Gang ). Abbey's journals and essays provided material for a steady stream of publications that appeared after his death. Suffering from increasingly serious esophageal bleeding, Abbey laid plans to die in the open, under the desert skies. He and several friends went out into the desert in early March of 1989, but he rallied and was brought back to his cabin in Oracle, Arizona, near Tucson, where he died on March 14, 1989. His friends buried him, illegally, at an unspecified location said to be on federal land, and the legend of his burial, together with the outlaw mystique and the philosophical vigor of his writings, continued to strengthen his reputation in the years after he passed away.
Edward Rutherfurd was born in England, in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he worked in political research, bookselling and publishing. After numerous attempts to write books and plays, he finally abandoned his career in the book trade in 1983, and returned to his childhood home to write SARUM, a historical novel with a ten-thousand year story, set in the area around the ancient monument of Stonehenge, and Salisbury. Four years later, when the book was published, it became an instant international bestseller, remaining 23 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.