Excerpts From The Text And Photographs of Drylands: The Deserts of North America by Philip Hyde, Part Two
Continued from the beginning of the text in the blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 1.”
Where Drylands Began
(View the photograph large: “Lava, Flowers, Craters Of The Moon National Monument, Idaho.”)
Yolla Bolly Press, the same book packager and agent who put together Galen Rowell’s famous book, Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, collaborated with my father, pioneer color landscape photographer Philip Hyde, to select images and plan the concept for what became one of Dad’s most important books: Drylands : The Deserts of North America. Drylands, with photographs and text by Philip Hyde, introduction and notes on plants and animals of the North American deserts by renowned award-winning naturalist David Rains Wallace and drawings of desert plants and animals by Vincent Lopez was the culmination of Dad’s “wandering in the desert” as he put it, quoting the New Testament. Recently, Yolla Bolly Press donated its archive to Stanford University, which will be the home of Drylands in perpetuity.
In the next blog post in this series, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 3,” we will get back into Dad’s text, but first, I will start at the beginning and share some important insider background to round out the story. Also, I will give you a preview of what is to come by presenting the dust cover jacket flap blurbs below.
After he had been the primary illustrator of dozens of books, Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich blew Dad’s mind by sending him his only advance ever on a book: a check for $50,000, which is large for a photography book. HBJ then released Drylands: The Deserts of North America in 1987. Reviewers from several major newspapers reviewed Drylands, but the only major review reproduced online today is in the Los Angeles Times. After Drylands received the following review from Library Journal, libraries across the nation purchased the large format book for their collections.
In this beautiful exposition of the five deserts of North America, Hyde’s photographs capture the desolate and sometimes haunting beauty of the desert landscape. Hyde has been exploring the desert for over 30 years and his love for the land is obvious. Unfortunately, his essays here are rather slight compared with the photographs. There is, however, an enlightening introduction by David Rains Wallace about evolutionary mysteries the desert presents. Libraries that can afford this book will not be disappointed by its quality.
By Randy Dykhuis, Grand Rapids Public Library, Michigan.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When I looked up Drylands on WorldCat, I was surprised to find that dozens of university, state and municipal libraries in most states have a copy of the book, including Harvard, Yale, Cornell and even Cambridge in the UK. Many libraries in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand have copies of Dad’s classic color film desert tribute as well.
The Dust Jacket Flaps
Distinguished photographer Philip Hyde and award-winning writer David Rains Wallace pool their talents here, in this dazzling book depicting in words, photographs, and drawings the many faces of the deserts of North America. What emerges is an unforgettable portrait of harsh yet lovely lands with diverse animals and plants and landforms.
Philip Hyde has been photographing the deserts of the North American West since 1951. Drylands reveals 95 full-color brilliant image of the five major deserts:
PAINTED DESERT with souring cliffs, deep canyons—including the Grand Canyon—and varicolored hills
GREAT BASIN DESERT with climatic extremes and long, parallel mountain chains and mountain “islands” surrounded by dry flatland
MOJAVE DESERT with many-armed Joshua trees and the vast, empty expanse of Death Valley
SONORAN DESERT with high mountains and oversized trees and cactuses—including the saguaro, which grows to spectacular heights
CHIHUAHUAN DESERT with two great rivers, the Rio Grande and the Rio Conchos, yet with the driest country.
Hyde’s superb photographs are complemented by luminous descriptions of geographical and geological features and by journal vignettes of his encounters with the drylands.
In his introductory essay, David Raines Wallace looks at the deserts in time: the evolutionary past, the evolutionary future, and today. In his notes, Wallace provides a valuable guide to the characteristic features and habitats of desert plants (ocotillo, paloverde, desert evening primrose) and animals (the sidewinder, mountain lion, kangaroo rat), illustrated by Vincent Perez’s striking line drawings. The book also includes six relief maps.
Drylands is designed and produced in the grand tradition of fine art books. It gives continuing pleasure to those who delight in the splendors of the desert.
PHILIP HYDE’S landscape photographs have been exhibited nationwide. He is represented in several major photograph collections, and his work has appeared in books and magazines. He has written and collaborated on many books on the American West.
DAVID RAINS WALLACE has been writing about nature and conservation for almost ten years. He is the author of six books including The Klamath Knot, for which he was awarded the John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing in 1984.
Continued in the blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts of North America 3.”
What are your experiences in the desert? What does the desert mean to you?