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NPT Reviews of Books and other Material

A collection of book reviews to help you pick the perfect read for your national park escape

Stewart Udall: Steward Of The Land

Stewart Udall served as Secretary of the Interior from 1961 to 1969, leading advocacy and politics of conservation and environmental protection in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. He was, by all accounts, one of the most significant Interior Secretaries in American history, sharing that status with Harold Ickes, Secretary in the FDR administrations. While very different in background, temperament, and style, both men were masterful politicians who saw their role as stewards of American public lands, and we enjoy many legacies of their work today.

Crown Jewel Wilderness: Creating The North Cascades National Park

In Crown Jewel Wilderness, environmental historian Lauren Danner masterfully tells the story of the decades of political wrangling over the North Cascades. She examines North Cascades history in the context of national debates about what agency should be the primary provider of outdoor recreation – the Forest Service or the National Park Service – what areas should be national park as opposed to national forest, and who should manage wilderness in places like the North Cascades. Conservationists were skeptical that either agency would consider wilderness preservation a priority. The Park Service was, they thought, too focused on developing the national parks for mass recreation, and the Forest Service was pursuing a multiple use policy focused especially, in the North Cascade region, on logging.

Grand Canyon For Sale: Public Lands Vs. Private Interests In The Era Of Climate Change

Stephen Nash wraps up this hard-hitting overview of America’s public lands with the observation that “if we want that waning legacy to endure, we’re going to have to fight hard for it.” As I pondered Nash’s troubling portrayal of public lands I happened to pick up the latest issue of The George Wright Forum, a journal focusing on parks and protected areas, and read a piece by Rolf Diamant in which he quotes historian Dwight Pitcaithley who has written that “the National Park System today is vastly different from the one envisioned and managed by Stephen T. Mather and Horace Albright….The complexity of issues confronted by park and program managers today could not have been envisioned by the first generation of Park Service administrators.” After reading Grand Canyon for Sale I thought, “Pitcaithley is so right!”

Wonderlandscape: Yellowstone National Park And The Evolution Of An American Cultural Icon

While many consider Yellowstone National Park as iconic for its nature, 30 years’ experience of this “wonderlandscape” has led John Clayton to conclude that “Ultimately Yellowstone was [is] a cultural place.” How is this so? While not denying the significance of the natural wonders and beauty of the park, Clayton makes the case that over its 145-year history Yellowstone has achieved status greater than other national parks “by the accumulation of our experiences and values and social interactions – by our culture.”

American Wolf: A True Story Of Survival And Obsession In The West

It has been more than two decades since the wolf recovery operation was launched in Yellowstone National Park, and interest in the predators has not ebbed at all. Park visitors continue to congregate in the predawn and pre-sunset hours in the Lamar Valley on the northern end of Yellowstone. Magazine features and books are still being written about the ongoing fate of the wolves.

Legacy Of The Yosemite Mafia: The Ranger Image And Noble Cause Corruption In The National Park Service

Legacy of the Yosemite Mafia can be viewed as a prequel of sorts to Paul Berkowitz's earlier book about National Park Service malfeasance, and even to Robert Danno's own account of how he was pilloried by agency superiors after he charged that his superintendent ignored well-established federal laws and agency policies and procedures in showing deference to a billionaire.

Underground Ranger: Adventures In Carlsbad Caverns National Park And Other Remarkable Places

In 1995, National Park Service Ranger Doug Thompson saw the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and thought they were clouds. Little did he know, but for the next six years he would work under those clouds, and beneath those mountains at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. He was looking for a challenge after two decades as a ranger, and found one.

The Rocky Mountain National Park Reader

This title will be a great addition to libraries of collectors of anthologies of stories and essays from around the National Park System. Through its nearly 280 pages James H. Pickering has masterfully assembled narratives crafted from those who homesteaded the land within today’s park, from naturalists such as Anne Zwinger, Stephen Trimble, SueEllen Campbell, and even from mountain climbers.

Natural Wonders Of Assateague Island

The cover sold me. Whatever followed in the ensuing pages most likely would be riveting, and Mark Hendricks does not disappoint. As much as writers love to use words to create lasting images in readers' minds, Mr. Hendricks, a photographer, has captured the flora and fauna of Assateague Island National Seashore in a wonderful photo collection to be left visibly out for family and friends to enjoy.

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