Everett Ruess: His Short Life, Mysterious Death, and Astonishing Afterlife

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University of California Press, Aug 29, 2011 - History - 279 pages
“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


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Davis Gulch
The Legacy 18591913
Growing Up 19141929
On the Road 1930
Lan Rameau 1931
The Misfit 1932
The Bohemian 1933
The Search 1935
Healing 19362008
Resurrection 2009
Wilderness Song
Selected Bibliography

Vanished 1934

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About the author (2011)

Philip L. Fradkin is the author of twelve highly praised books, including Wallace Stegner and the American West and The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906: How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself, and (with Alex L. Fradkin) The Left Coast: California on the Edge, all from UC Press.

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