The enduring appeal of the desert is strikingly portrayed in this poetic study, which has become a classic of the American Southwest. First published in 1903, it is the work of Mary Austin (1868-1934), a prolific novelist, poet, critic, and playwright, who was also an ardent early feminist and champion of Indians and Spanish-Americans. She is best known today for this enchanting paean to the vast, arid, yet remarkably beautiful lands that lie east of the Sierra Nevadas, stretching south from Yosemite through Death Valley to the Mojave Desert.
Comprising fourteen sketches, the book describes plants, animals, mountains, birds, skies, Indians, prospectors, towns, and other aspects of the desert in serene, beautifully modulated prose that conveys the timeless cycles of life and death in a harsh land. Readers will never again think of the desert as a lifeless, barren environment but rather as a place of rare, austere beauty, rich in plant and animal life, weaving a lasting spell over its human inhabitants.