Finding Everett Ruess

Finding Everett Ruess

The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of A Legendary Wilderness Explorer

Book - 2011
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Random House, Inc.
Finding Everett Ruess by David Roberts, with a foreword by Jon Krakauer, is the definitive biography of the artist, writer, and eloquent celebrator of the wilderness whose bold solo explorations of the American West and mysterious disappearance in the Utah desert at age 20 have earned him a large and devoted cult following. More than 75 years after his vanishing, Ruess stirs the kinds of passion and speculation accorded such legendary doomed American adventurers as Into the Wild’s Chris McCandless and Amelia Earhart.

“I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the street car and the star sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown, to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities.” So Everett Ruess wrote in his last letter to his brother. And earlier, in a valedictory poem, ”Say that I starved; that I was lost and weary; That I was burned and blinded by the desert sun; Footsore, thirsty, sick with strange diseases; Lonely and wet and cold . . . but that I kept my dream!"

Wandering alone with burros and pack horses through California and the Southwest for five years in the early 1930s, on voyages lasting as long as ten months, Ruess also became friends with photographers Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange, swapped prints with Ansel Adams, took part in a Hopi ceremony, learned to speak Navajo, and was among the first "outsiders" to venture deeply into what was then (and to some extent still is) largely a little-known wilderness.

When he vanished without a trace in November 1934, Ruess left behind thousands of pages of journals, letters, and poems, as well as more than a hundred watercolor paintings and blockprint engravings. A Ruess mystique, initiated by his parents but soon enlarged by readers and critics who, struck by his remarkable connection to the wild, likened him to a fledgling John Muir. Today, the Ruess cult has more adherents—and more passionate ones—than at any time in the seven-plus decades since his disappearance. By now, Everett Ruess is hailed as a paragon of solo exploration, while the mystery of his death remains one of the greatest riddles in the annals of American adventure. David Roberts began probing the life and death of Everett Ruess for National Geographic Adventure magazine in 1998. Finding Everett Ruess is the result of his personal journeys into the remote areas explored by Ruess, his interviews with oldtimers who encountered the young vagabond and with Ruess’s closest living relatives, and his deep immersion in Ruess’s writings and artwork. It is an epic narrative of a driven and acutely perceptive young adventurer’s expeditions into the wildernesses of landscape and self-discovery, as well as an absorbing investigation of the continuing mystery of his disappearance.

In this definitive account of Ruess's extraordinary life and the enigma of his vanishing, David Roberts eloquently captures Ruess's tragic genius and ongoing fascination.

Baker & Taylor
Traces the extraordinary life of the early 20th-century adventurer, writer and watercolor artist, describing his early years as a child prodigy, his solitary journeys through the American Southwest and his mysterious 1934 disappearance in Navajo country. 60,000 first printing.

& Taylor

Traces the life of the early twentieth-century adventurer, writer, and watercolor artist, describing his early years as a child prodigy, his solitary journeys through the American Southwest, and his mysterious 1934 disappearance in Navajo country.

Publisher: New York, NY : Broadway Books, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307591760
Characteristics: xvi, 394 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm


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AL_SARAHD Aug 10, 2016

This book made me want to leave civilization and go on an adventure. I then reminded myself that I am neither brave nor crazy enough to even attempt 1% of what Everett did. I hope you will get lost in these pages. I certainly did.

Feb 10, 2014

Interesting book about a lost explorer in the American Southwest. Also delves into recent events to try to find him, since his disappearance is a mystery comparable to Amelia Earhart's. More compelling that one would think on first glance. Recommended for those interested in cold cases, mysterious disappearances, and desert habitats.

Oct 02, 2011

Although he doesn't actually come out and say so, David Roberts is probably the single most important writer who has brought Everett Ruess to the attention of the general public. He did so first by bringing Everett to the attention of his friend Jon Krakauer who included a chapter on Everett in 'Into the Wild'. Then, Roberts wrote two articles a decade a part for National Geographic Adventure magazine on Everett.

Finding Everett Ruess is really well done. The first part is a dispassionate biography of Ruess. Roberts strengths as a mountaineer who has himself extensively explored the same ground as Everett allows him to put into context Everett's achievements; especially Everett's extended solo travels at a very young age into more-or-less unknown land. Roberts also brings out Everett's talents as a young writer and artist.

The next section of the book explores the mysterious disappearance of Everett in the back country at the age of 20. Everett has never been seen since Nov of 1934. Roberts explores all that is known of the searches, clues and theories of the next 50 to 60 years.

The last sections read like a fast paced detective novel as Roberts talks about the latest discoveries and clues. Everett seems to be almost on the edge of discovery. Everett Ruess remains the mysterious missing young artist, adventurer and writer.


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