ABOUT THIS BOOK
Published in 1986, Blue Desert was Charles Bowden’s third book-length work and takes place almost entirely in Arizona, revealing Bowden’s growing and intense preoccupation with the state and what it represented as a symbol of America’s “New West.”
Bowden presents a view of the Southwest that measures how rapid growth takes its toll on the land. Writing with a reporter’s objectivity and a desert rat’s passion, Bowden offers us his trademarked craft and wit to take us into the streets as well as the desert to depict not a fragile environment but the unavoidable reality of abuse, exploitation, and human cruelty. Blue Desert shows us the darker side of development—where “the land always makes promises of aching beauty and the people always fail the land”—and defies us to ignore it.
In a thoughtful new foreword, Francisco Cantú writes, “In Blue Desert, we follow Bowden in the processes of becoming. We see the version of Bowden that he would likely most want us to remember—someone who did their best to be an honest witness, someone who was haunted by modernity and his place in it, someone who grappled with his demons by gazing deeply into the desert.” Blue Desert is a critical piece in the oeuvre of Charles Bowden, and it continues to remind readers of the cruelty and beauty of the world around us.