Near Death in the Gila National Forest by Don Lubov Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

This honest and thrilling memoir takes readers across the United States in the early 1970’s, when drugs, rock and roll and free love was still moving a new generation, in author Don Lubov’s Near Death in the Gila National Forest. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

When his teaching contract is not renewed, a drug-taking, aimless, university art instructor heads out on a solo backpacking trip across the U.S. Two slick, wealthy drug dealers alter his trip. It’s 1971 and this novice hiker begins a painful series of learning experiences. From a rock concert in the woods, to an invitation to a lynching, to hitching, he plods on, one day at a time, to a purposeless future. Learning to live in the wild and taking a colorful variety of hitches, he detours to Acapulco, Mexico and a “Big” drug deal. Events beyond his control force him to beat a hasty retreat back to the U.S. In the midst of wilderness survival in fierce, desert heat and some brief, welcome female companionship, he has a spiritual awakening. Following this event, he gets hopelessly lost in the wild and prepares to die. Saved from death, he arrives in California, a fitting end to his cross-country trek. His California years include communes, a stabbing, teaching at Stanford and some letdowns. His life lacks direction and meaning. Finally, 41/2 years after leaving the east coast, he senses his purposeful future is in New York. He leaves California, not sadder, but a bit wiser, and heads East to meet his soulmate and a new beginning. 

The Review

This was a fascinating story of self-discovery. Each chapter brought a new and interesting story that the author experienced on his cross country journey, (with a brief detour into Mexico). The author did a fabulous job bringing the early 70’s to life in a somewhat familiar yet refreshing way. While some moments in the author’s life seem to reflect the experience of so many others in this era, we also get to see the various social, political and cultural divides that made up the world at that point in history.

From former friends who turned out to be racists, to an elderly gentlemen living alone in the wilderness and a town overrun by a rock festival full of drugs, free love and rock and roll, this book had a story in every chapter that kept the reader hooked. A memoir is only as good as the stories the author has to tell, and Don Lubrov does a marvelous job painting a picture of the experiences he had in his journey.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic book everyone needs to read. The personal tale of one man seeking to find his place in the world and the adventures he goes on to discover who he is is something everyone can relate to. The imagery used to paint a picture of the various locations and adventures that the author went on made the story incredibly engaging and fascinating to read, and anyone who is a fan of memoirs or journeys of self-discovery will fall in love with this book. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Near Death in the Gila National Forest by Don Lubrov today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author


Don has been happily married since 1976.

He was an artist for 34 years and exhibited his artwork at 3 New York City Art Galleries and the Heckscher Art Museum.

He spent 8 years teaching Art & Design at East Carolina University, McNeese State University, Suffolk County Community College.

He was a guest lecturer at Stony Brook University on “Hyperspace—A Visual Introduction to the 4thDimension”.

In 1985, he received a grant from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation for his work combining art & mathematics, with his “Quantum Pictures”.

He has written about spirituality and stress relief since 1971. He is the author of 9 books. 10 years successfully teaching his “Six-Step Path” at College of Central Florida Sr. Center, MTP College, and The Lifelong Learning College in The Villages, FL. He has taught his unique brand of meditation to over 2,000 people, who subsequently achieved a level of inner peace.

Don has written for Yahoo Voices,, and His writings have been published in various magazines and books.

He has written the following 6 books —

     An End to Stress – spirituality and self-help

     The Plague – sci-fi cautionary tale

     Near Death in the Gila National Forest – a memoir

     The Side Job – a novel of a female assassin

     The Writers Bloc Club – an anthology of prose & poetry

     Frosty the Soulman – an illustrated children’s book

He has 3 YouTube videos —

      “The Grassroots Manifesto”,

      “Creativity Manifesto”

      “Spirituality Manifesto”

He created and developed “Pyramoids” – an energy-efficient building system, and taught this system at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  One of his “Pyramoid” designs was accepted and juried in The World Trade Center Memorial Competition.

Memberships: The Writers Bloc Club, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2006 – present

                         The Florida Writers Association, 2006-2013

                         The Metaphysical Group, Del Webb, Summerfield, FL, 2007-present

Classes taught: Spirituality (Life’s Purpose, I & II)



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