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On the Loose by Terry Russell

On the Loose (1967)

by Terry Russell

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One of my favorite books when it came out in the late Sixties. I still read it from time to time and think about the spirit of adventure. ( )
  landlocked54 | Nov 26, 2012 |
A great little book. Inspirational, quotable and very "outward bound". Written by a couple of brothers who really did get out there. It has come to define for me the idea of a couple of "Crazy kids on the loose; but on the loose in the wilderness . That makes all the difference."
  xkyzero | Feb 6, 2009 |
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To Ma, who worried.

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Have you ever walked 34 miles on a straight-arrow dirt road in the desert with only a Tang-jar of some rusty water because you expected somebody who didn't come and then walked past your turnoff in the dark and had to sleep on a cattleguard?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0879059958, Paperback)

This is a most wondrous and unusual book. Its scattered text and stunning photographs convey a spirit of reverence and adventure that will cause readers to recall their own private epiphanies gained through contact with the natural world. Originally published by the Sierra Club in 1967, On the Loose sold more than a million copies before going out of print a decade ago; this gorgeous re-release is bound to find a new generation of readers.

The artful photographs, mostly taken by the Russell brothers, capture Yosemite, Point Reyes, the High Sierra, the Great Basin, and Glen Canyon in the 1950s and 1960s. The text--quotes, poems, pithy observations--perfectly complements the images as the Russells write about both the wonder of the American West as well as humanity's role in its destruction. Rather than preach or admonish, they offer an eloquent plea for compassion and understanding on behalf of the places that touched them deeply:

We live in a house that God built but that the former tenants remodelled--blew up, it looks like--before we arrived. Poking through the rubble in our odd hours, we've found the corners that were spared and have hidden in them as much as we could. Not to escape from but to escape to: not to forget but to remember.
There is a wisdom and sincerity on these pages that belies their age (Terry was 21 when they wrote the book; Renny was 19) and the book is filled with memorable quotes such as, "It feels good to say 'I know the Sierra' or 'I know Point Reyes.' But of course you don't--what you know better is yourself, and Point Reyes and the Sierra have helped." Tragically, Terry died in 1965 while on a rafting trip down the Green River with his brother to celebrate the impending publication of their book.

At its core, On the Loose is an elegant invitation to gain insight by looking outward: "The point of it all is Out There, a little beyond that last rise you can just barely see, hazy and purple on the sky. These pages are windows. And windows are to see through." And what a view it is. --Shawn Carkonen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:37 -0400)

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