‘What Men? What Needs?’nby Chilton WilUamson, Jr.n”Rational thought Calm, reasonable, gentle persuasion. It was this quality ofnmoderation in his writing that most impressed me, for my own inclinationsnalways tended toward the opposite, toward the impatient, the radical, the violent.”n— Edward Abbey on Joseph Wood KrutchnThe Desert Yearnby Joseph Wood KrutchnTucson: University of Arizona Press;n270 pp., $10.95 (paper)nThe Forgotten Peninsula: AnNaturaHst in Baja, Californianby Joseph Wood Krutch, forewordnby Ann ZwingernTucson: University of Arizona Press;n277 pp., $9.95 (paper)nGrand Canyon: Today and AllnIts Yesterdaysnby Joseph Wood KrutchnTucson: University of Arizona Press;n276 pp., $11.95 (paper)nThe name of Joseph Wood Krutchnwas well-known in its day, muchnless so now. Perhaps the timely reissuenof these three titles will do something tonremedy the situation; if not, it should.nOn the final page of Grand Canyon,nthe author writes: “The generationnnow living may very well be that whichnwill make the irrevocable decisionnwhether or not America will continuento be for centuries to come the onengreat nation which had the foresight tonpreserve an important part of its [natural]nheritage.” Since at any given momentnnot one but several generationsnmay be counted as “the living,” it isnhard to say just how prescient Mr.nKrutch was when he wrote that sentence.nOne can only say that, whilenthose people for whom the naturalnworid is an object of intellectual, spiritual,nand aesthetic appreciation remainnChilton WiUiamson, Jr. is seniorneditor at Chronicles and the authornof several books, the most recent ofnwhich is a novel. The Homestead,npublished last spring by GrovenWeidenfeld.nas ever a minority in the United Statesn(as elsewhere), still, the 1990’s shownpromise of being far more sensitive tonthe concerns of that minority thannwere the 1950’s, when Mr. Krutch wasnwriting. As late as the late 50’s,n”growth” was one of those incantationalnimperative buzzwords (like “globaldemocracy”ntoday) upon utterancenof which millions of men and womennwearing 1 LIKE IKE buttons werenexpected to leap to their feet wavingntiny American flags. The so-callednGreenhouse Effect is perhaps no lessnan exaggeration than InternationalnCommunism was, but at least it hasnhad the effect of making people whonhave scarcely ever set foot off MadisonnAvenue (or the Madison, Wisconsin,ncampus) pay their overdue respects tonthe plight of the natural world somentwo hundred years after the onset ofnpopular democracy and the IndustrialnRevolution.nJoseph Wood Krutch, aetat. 59,nmoved from Connecticut to the Amer­nnnican Southwest in 1952, when 18 yearsnof life remained to him. In retrospectnhe may be seen as the venerable precursornof a generation or two of urbannrefugees—known more poetically asn”earth muffins” — who in the 1960’s,n70’s, and 80’s succeeded in transformingnthe individualistic legacy of HenrynDavid Thoreau into something approachingna mass movement. Krutch, annative of Tennessee, had spent hisnadult life in and around New York Citynwhere, as drama critic for The Nationnand professor of drama at ColumbianUniversity, he established impeccablencredentials as a scion of Gotham. Henwrote books on the theater and severalnmore general ones, including that fornwhich he is perhaps best known. ThenModern Temper — a rather pessimisticnmeditation on that subject. While residentnin Connecticut, this urban man ofnletters wrote a book about the naturalnworid as it transpired under his nose innhis postage stamp-sized piece of NewnEngland, and found it pleasing both tonhimself and to some readers. Waxingnbolder, he ventured into southeasternnUtah to behold the great canyons,nbuttes, and deserts that were shortly tonentrance a young man named EdwardnAbbey. He speculated upon these phenomenanfor years, and then, havingnarrived at the discovery that he couldnnot banish them from his imagination,nmade the leap of faith that has landednso many converts in the Great AmericannWilderness. Joseph Krutch, for hisnpart, came to rest in the Lower SonorannDesert near Tucson, Arizona,nabout which he had already written anbook (The Desert Year) while on sabbaticalnleave from Columbia.n”With Mr. Krutch,” Paul Horgannwrote, “we make a journey into twonplaces. One is the desert itself Thenother is his civilized and charmingnmind. Together they make a countrynAUGUST 1990/35n