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Everett Ruess : his short life, mysterious death, and astonishing afterlife /
Philip L. Fradkin.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2011.
description
279 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520265424 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780520265424 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c2011.
isbn
0520265424 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780520265424 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
7863711
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 255-259) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"This is the definitive account of a western American legend, told with the author's trademark clarity and narrative vigor. Fradkin helps us understand, through his careful reconstruction of a single man's life, that deeply American search for the heart of the wilderness." -Donald Worster, author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir "Everett Ruess's short life meanders through three important territories: the west-coast artistic circles of Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange in the depression era; the wildernesses of the southwest, where he vanished; and the American imagination of freedom, mystery and loneliness ever since. Fradkin brings to that life intensive research, new data and insight that give us Ruess for the first time, and tells it with empathy for both the restless son and the bereaved mother and with great attunement to the communities Ruess's story passes through." -Rebecca Solnit, author of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas "In all cultures, every religion, men and women have gone into isolation and returned with insight. Or, often equally fascinating, they have not returned. Are they lost souls hiding somewhere, or victims of misadventure? They lead many to speculate about the significance of life, and the significance of mystery. This book about Everett Ruess is an adventure story that builds into a mystery. So read and ponder. It kept me up nights." -William Kittredge, author of The Willow Field "I found I was turning the pages faster and faster--and couldn't put them down as the year of his disappearance approached. It is a compelling story, even to the debacle over the misidentification of bones at the end. A fascinating read." -William deBuys, author of A Great Aridness and The Walk "Everett Ruess was one of the West's great conundrums and mysteries. The fact that Philip Fradkin is as indefatigable as a researcher as Ruess was as an outdoors traveler provides the foundation for a remarkable biography. Fradkin draws a portrait that leaves us face-to-face with the power and complexity of nature and human character." -Patricia N. Limerick, author Legacy of Conquest "Important or famous people can sometimes disappear into legend. Innumerable young people of aspiration and talent, however--such as Everett Ruess--can vanish into a vast and devouring darkness, lured there by dreams that can never come true and demons that give no rest." -Kevin Starr, University of Southern California "The mysterious disappearance of the vagabond artist and poet, Everett Ruess, has fascinated historians and Canyonlands buffs for nearly 80 years. Fradkin doesn't solve the mystery of Everett's fate, but he does a meticulous job demythologizing Ruess and making him human--curious, quixotic, intense, often foolish--but very much the embodiment of the youthful loner possessed by a romanticized search for truth and beauty." -Page Stegner, author of Adios Amigos: Tales of Sustenance and Purification in the American West
Flap Copy
"This is the definitive account of a western American legend, told with the author's trademark clarity and narrative vigor. Fradkin helps us understand, through his careful reconstruction of a single man's life, that deeply American search for the heart of the wilderness." -Donald Worster, author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir "Everett Ruess's short life meanders through three important territories: the west-coast artistic circles of Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange in the depression era; the wildernesses of the southwest, where he vanished; and the American imagination of freedom, mystery and loneliness ever since. Fradkin brings to that life intensive research, new data and insight that give us Ruess for the first time, and tells it with empathy for both the restless son and the bereaved mother and with great attunement to the communities Ruess's story passes through." -Rebecca Solnit, author of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas "In all cultures, every religion, men and women have gone into isolation and returned with insight. Or, often equally fascinating, they have not returned. Are they lost souls hiding somewhere, or victims of misadventure? They lead many to speculate about the significance of life, and the significance of mystery. This book about Everett Ruess is an adventure story that builds into a mystery. So read and ponder. It kept me up nights." -William Kittredge, author of The Willow Field "The mysterious disappearance of the vagabond artist and poet, Everett Ruess, has fascinated historians and Canyonlands buffs for nearly 80 years. Fradkin doesn't solve the mystery of Everett's fate, but he does a meticulous job demythologizing Ruess and making him human--curious, quixotic, intense, often foolish--but very much the embodiment of the youthful loner possessed by a romanticized search for truth and beauty." -Page Stegner, author of Adios Amigos: Tales of Sustenance and Purification in the American West
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-01-01:
This is a fine biography of Ruess, writer/artist/explorer who disappeared, at age 20, in the Utah desert in 1934--thus joining such figures as Ambrose Bierce and Weldon Kees, artistic spirits who also disappeared in the West. Ruess has become a celebrated case: a young man who could not find his place, left his family behind, and preferred to be alone yet sought company in his travels through western landscapes. He seems not to have established a firm identity; Fradkin alienated the Ruess family by theorizing that Everett may have been bipolar. Although Fradkin's is the first biography of Reuss, Ruess has been revealed and his disappearance probed in several books, including Mark Taylor's Sandstone Sunsets: In Search of Everett Ruess (1997); On Desert Trails with Everett Ruess, ed. by Hugh Lacey (1940), a collection of Ruess's work; W. L. Rusho's The Mystery of Everett Ruess (1983; rev. ed., 2010), which collects many of Ruess's letters; and The Wilderness Journals of Everett Ruess, ed. by Rusho (1998). John O'Grady placed him in august company in his Pilgrims to the Wild: Everett Ruess, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Clarence King, Mary Austin (CH, Jul'93, 30-6029). Valuable for western collections. Excellent notes, bibliography, and index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. J. J. Wydeven emeritus, Bellevue University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-06-15:
An acclaimed scholar of American Western history, Fradkin (Wallace Stegner and the American West) tackles Everett Ruess, a young vagabond artist and poet who wandered in isolation throughout the West and disappeared in the southern Utah desert at age 20 in 1934. In this thorough work, Fradkin focuses on Ruess himself, including, e.g., his possible undiagnosed bipolar disorder, which led to exhilarating highs and outpourings of creativity as well as risk-taking behavior and thoughts of suicide. Questions about Ruess remain to this day-was he attacked and killed, did an accident befall him, or did he take his own life? The book follows the search for Ruess, including the 2009 incident in which a project overseen by National Geographic Adventure obtained erroneous DNA positives. Weaving in excerpts from Ruess's letters and diaries, Fradkin paints a rich portrait of a young man who was both brilliant and troubled, and whose family still deals with his loss. The author's research shines through without bogging down the narrative, making it accessible and eminently readable. VERDICT Highly recommended not just to those interested in Ruess but to a wide variety of readers from academics to armchair historians.-Crystal Goldman, San Jose St. Univ. Lib., CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Enthralling narrative. . . . A riveting ride through one of the Southwest's enduring mysteries."
"Enthralling narrative. . . . A riveting ride through one of the Southwest's enduring mysteries."-- Zyzzyva
"Fradkin tries . . . to sift through the legends to get to the heart of the genuine person. . . . . Tell[s] a gripping tale of a young man consumed by the nature he so desperately loved."
"Fradkin tries . . . to sift through the legends to get to the heart of the genuine person. . . . . Tell[s] a gripping tale of a young man consumed by the nature he so desperately loved."-- National Post
"The author's research shines through without bogging down the narrative, making it accessible and eminently readable."
"The author's research shines through without bogging down the narrative, making it accessible and eminently readable."-- Library Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, June 2011
Boston Globe, July 2011
Choice, January 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
The author goes beyond the myth to reveal the realities of Everett Ruess's short life and mysterious death and finds in the artist's afterlife a lonely hero who persevered.
Main Description
Everett Ruess was twenty years old when he vanished into the canyonlands of southern Utah, spawning the myth of a romantic desert wanderer that survives to this day. It was 1934, and Ruess was in the fifth year of a quest to record wilderness beauty in works of art whose value was recognized by such contemporary artists as Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston. From his home in Los Angeles, Ruess walked, hitchhiked, and rode burros up the California coast, along the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and into the deserts of the Southwest. In the first probing biography of Everett Ruess, acclaimed environmental historian Philip L. Fradkin goes beyond the myth to reveal the realities of Ruess's short life and mysterious death and finds in the artist's astonishing afterlife a lonely hero who persevered.
Main Description
Everett Ruess was twenty years old when he vanished into the red rock canyon lands of southern Utah, spawning the myth of a romantic desert wanderer that survives to this day. It was 1934, and Ruess was in the fifth year of a quest to find beauty in the wilderness and record it in works of art whose value was recognized by such contemporary artists as Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and Edward Weston. From his home in Los Angeles, he walked, hitchhiked, or rode a burro up the California coast, along the crest of the Sierra Nevada, and into the deserts of the Southwest. Seventy-five years after Ruess's disappearance his bones were supposedly discovered in 2009. Misguided journalism led to bad science and erroneous DNA results. In the first probing biography of Everett Ruess, acclaimed environmental historian Philip Fradkin goes beyond the myth to reveal a troubled, idealistic adolescent who flirted with death and lost. Fradkin's humane and clear-eyed account illuminates the realities of Ruess's short life and mysterious death and finds in the artist's astonishing afterlife a lonely hero who persevered.
Table of Contents
Davis Gulchp. 1
Wanderersp. 8
The Legacy, 1859-1913p. 11
Growing Up, 1914-1929p. 20
On the Road, 1930p. 34
Lan Rameau, 1931p. 49
The Misfit, 1932p. 82
The Bohemian, 1933p. 105
Vanished, 1934p. 126
The Search, 1935p. 146
Healing, 1936-2008p. 169
Resurrection, 2009p. 188
Wilderness Songp. 209
Father and Son Dialoguep. 211
Acknowledgmentsp. 217
Notesp. 219
Selected Bibliographyp. 255
Indexp. 261
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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