Edward Abbey’s second published novel and considered his rarest, The Brave Cowboy is the story of a transient ranch hand who rejects modern society. The basis for the popular movie Lonely Are the Brave, starring Kirk Douglas, this book is an ideal companion to the study of modern society’s relationship to wilderness.
Jack Burns is a cowboy and a man out of time. He has a steadfast refusal to accept the what he perceives as the tyranny of the twentieth century world he lives in and instead, Burns opts to ride his feisty chestnut mare across the New West--what was once a beautiful, unblemished land but that is now tarnished by airstrips and superhighways. He rejects contemporary society, refuses to register for the draft, and cuts down any and all fences he encounters.
It is this personal code of ethics and way of being that get Jack into trouble with the law, and soon enough he finds himself running from the very thing that could break his spirit--a fight for his freedom which, if caught, he may have to swap for the confinement of a grubby jail cell. The novel was adapted into the 1962 film Lonely Are the Brave starring Kirk Douglas.
American Southwest, bumming around the country by hitchhiking and hopping freight trains. It was during this time that Abbey developed a love of the desert, which would shape his life and his art for the next forty years. After a brief stint in the military, Abbey completed his education at the University of New Mexico and later, at the University of Edinburgh. He took employment as a park ranger and fire lookout at several different National Parks throughout his life, experiences from which he drew for his many books. Abbey died at his home in Oracle, Arizona in 1989.
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