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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

Review | Olmsted And Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, And The National Park Idea

When and why did the idea of national parks emerge in American history? Several creation myths, or “campfire tales” as Diamant and Carr call them, have been embraced by historians and government officials. Among them are the discussion around the campfire at Madison Junction on the Yellowstone Plateau during the 1870 Washburn-Langford-Doane expedition broaching the idea, which was then promoted by Langford on behalf of the Northern Pacific Railroad and resulted in the creation of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park.

Review | Requiem for America’s Best Idea: National Parks In The Era Of Climate Change

I find the title interesting because a requiem is a dirge, an expression of sadness and mourning, often a lamentation for the dead. Yochim knew his time was short, was he in such a mood as he considered the future of the national parks? I think not, but he knew they were jeopardy.

Review | Was It Worth It? A Wilderness Warrior’s Long Trail Home

There are many Doug Peacocks: Grizzly Man, the guy who could spend months living with grizzly bears in the wilderness of Montana and Wyoming and write great books about bears and his adventures with them; the Green Beret medic in Vietnam who sought solace in wild places and became a “warrior” in defense of those places; friend of Ed Abbey who made him into a fictional character named George Washington Heyduke in his novel The Monkey Wrench Gang; award-winning filmmaker; and above all, fearless and tireless advocate for wilderness and wildlife.

Review | Our Common Ground: A History Of America’s Public Lands

The title of John D. Leshy’s political history of America’s public lands, Our Common Ground, introduces the central fact of the story he invites us to read. The American federal public land estate is our land, a shared heritage of more than 600 million acres owned collectively by the American people and managed by the federal government. Yet despite a vast literature on public lands, which he points out focuses mostly on categories such as national parks or forests, much of the American public does not have a comprehensive understanding of how they came to have such a public land legacy.

Review | The Power Of Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted And The Origin Of National Parks

The origin story of America’s national parks goes like this: during the Lincoln administration, fearing that the recently “discovered” wonders of Yosemite Valley would be defiled as Niagara Falls had been, and the “Mariposa Big Tree Grove” logged, federal legislation created what would eventually become Yosemite National Park, though as author Dennis Drabelle notes, the word “park” never appeared in the law.

Fireside Reads | Of Books And Bears: A Review Essay

The bear literature is rich, but with threats to bears proliferating today, writers and photographers are shining their lights on the plight of these charismatic megafauna. Several excellent books about bears have appeared that deserve our attention. Thankfully the news is not all bad, but as I’ve read through these recent publications, a sense of urgency grows – their prospects are not good.

Review | A Wild Idea

Businessman, entrepreneur, rock climber, kayaker, pilot, conservationist, exceptionally accomplished and successful in all these endeavors, Doug Tompkins lived several lives in his 72 years, most notably one in the business world, the other in the realm of conservation. And despite the title, he had more than one wild idea – his is a story of one wild idea after another.

Review | Mountains And Desire: Climbing Versus The End Of The World

Mountains and Desire and The Third Pole happened to land in my reading pile together and have given me rich food for thought about mountains, mountaineering, and “the end of the world.” One takes work to understand and one captivates with mystery and adventure, but they are complementary and both are well worth the effort required to glean insights into some of our often inexplicable desires.

Review | Four-Fifths A Grizzly: A New Perspective On Nature That Just Might Save Us All

This beautifully written and designed book is pure advocacy - of the idea that we humans are nature, and our future depends on accepting this fact. This seems obvious to many of us, but as a species we don’t act as though we understand its implications. We are special. We are exceptional. The laws of nature do not apply to us. The Earth is made for us, and we can do whatever we want to it with impunity, like remove the forests, kill the coral reefs, and drive myriad fellow travelers to extinction, among other things.

The Essential RVing Guide

The Essential RVing Guide To The National Parks

Exploring the National Park System by RV is one of the quintessential approaches to visiting national parks, monuments, national recreation areas, and other park system units that combined represent what Wallace Stegner defined as the best idea America ever had. To help RVers explore these lands and destinations, the National Parks Traveler editors and writers have sifted through the National Park System and come away with the definitive RVing guide to the parks. This Essential Guide To RVing In The National Park System presents RV enthusiasts with a rich collection of articles exploring the park system by RV, camper, or trailer that is supported by a directory packed with RVing specific details on more than 250 campgrounds in more than 70 parks.

Order your guide, either as an ePub ebook for your Kindle or as a PDF version.