American West •  Environment and History

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Desert Passages: Encounters with the American Deserts

Patricia Nelson Limerick

This lively book traces the development of American attitudes toward the desert using case studies from the writings of John C. Frémont, William Lewis Manly, Mark Twain, William Ellsworth Smythe, John Van Dyke, George Wharton James, Joseph Wood Krutch, and Edward Abbey.

"Patricia Nelson Limerick is an original, learned, passionate writer. Everything she writes about the history of the American West deserves attention."--Larry McMurtry

"Patricia Limerick is simply one of the best writers alive--and the astonishing thing is that she thinks as clearly and logically as she writes."--Garry Wills


Patricia Nelson Limerick, author of Something in the Soil, is professor of history at the University of Colorado. This was her first book, originally published in 1985 by UNM Press.


"A small, bright gem of a book. She moves easily from the broad historical background to close textual analysis in a prose that is always sharp, lively, incisive, and readable. . . . succeeds splendidly in making the desert a rich environment for cultural history."


Arizona and the West

"This is an important book. It is also a beautifully written book, and it takes its major energies not only from its scholarship, intelligence, and graceful writing but also from that genre of deep, personal, disciplined engagement from which proceeds the best work in American studies. . . . reminds me very much of Henry Nash Smith's Virgin Land."


Western Historical Quarterly

6 x 9 in. 224 pages