I found this book on my father's shelf right before taking our trip out to Utah. I picked it up thinking it was a western and just intended to see what was interesting enough about it that my dad had a copy. Then I found out that it was about an area of Utah that overlapped with where we were about to go. I started to read a chapter and was hooked so I threw it into the truck to read during the long drive out there.
Basically, Abbey has taken a seasonal job as a ranger at Arches National Park in SE Utah, and writes about his experiences and thoughts. There is a lot of stuff about the role of the wilderness and it's relationship to civilization. He also struggles between the importance of having the parks there for people and the inevitable development of the areas that are heavily visited. Also interesting is his struggle to maintain the "two worlds" philosophy. He contrasts himself with Thoreau at one point by insisting that he is seeking to exist in both civilization and wilderness simultaneously rather than at separate times. I found everything in the book to be thought provoking and double edged. There are no simple minded views on the matters considered. The book is very interesting and despite the fact that there is some ranting in it does not come across as a lecture at all. Instead you get the feeling that Abbey is making sense of his own experience and his own strong opinions.
On the other hand I have to admit that though I liked his style, and found him interesting and fun to read, much of the enjoyment of this particular work came from the fact that it really is very close to where I was going as I read it. He mentioned a number of the places where we went although they are on the periphery of the exact territory where he was centered.
This book has certainly whetted my appetite to read more of his stuff particularly "the Monkey Wrench Gang".