Abbey earned his place in the Ecology Hall of Fame with two books and one extra-literary creation. The first book, Desert Solitaire, is a classic of environmental literature, combining nature writing, the philosophy of life and death, and political observations regarding freedom, democracy, and the management of National Parks. The other book, The Monkey Wrench Gang, created a whole new branch of the environmental movement. All those who espouse non-violent social protest in the tradition of Ghandi’s satyagraha must consider Abbey’s heros as their prototypes.
But Abbey’s greatest creation was Cactus Ed, his own public persona. Though in many ways he was a quiet scholar and fine craftsman as a writer, he recreated himself as a brawling revolutionary, shocking conservative audiences and frustrating environmental allies by throwing beer cans out the window as he drove at high speed through the desert he assailed others for despoiling.