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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

The War On Science: Who’s Waging It, Why It Matters, What We Can Do About It

This is a big book on a big subject, written prior to the election of Donald Trump and the intensified war on science that has resulted. The author does not concern himself specifically with national parks but with the overriding effects of the rejection of science on politics, policy, and democracy.
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First Impressions, A Reader’s Journey To Iconic Places Of The American Southwest

This is not a book for light reading. It is, though, one that takes a historical approach to examining the hallmarks of the Southwestern landscape. Canyon de Chelly, El Morro, Rainbow Bridge, Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon are among the destinations to which we are reintroduced through the writings of the first non-natives who encountered.
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The Pipestone Wolves: The Rise And Fall Of A Wolf Family

Günther Bloch set out to study the Pipestone wolves “to outline the difference between a wolf ‘pack’ and a wolf family, and we wanted to describe the wolves’ different personality types and how this impacted their survival rates in the Bow Valley." This book is not, however, a dry scientific report. It is a large format (9”x11”) description, complemented by Marriott’s terrific photographs, of the fate of one wolf family in Canada’s flagship national park.
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This Land Is Our Land: How We Lost The Right To Roam And How To Take It Back

Ken Ilgunas knows about trespassing as he traveled thousands of miles across private land in the United States and is proud of it. He is a brave man, for not only might he get shot by someone protecting his private property right, but in this book, he challenges the very idea that private property owners should have the right to exclude everyone else from their land.
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Deep Into Yellowstone: A Year’s Immersion In Grandeur & Controversy

In these dark times (and I don’t mean short winter solstice days), the holidays upon us, I thought some light reading would be good since practically all my reading these days is about our national decline on one front or another. A book about Yellowstone would be the ticket, and recently one had arrived by an author I didn’t know named Rick Lamplugh. I picked it up on Christmas Eve and dove in, looking forward to a respite and to some degree I got it, though I should have read the subtitle more carefully – “A Year’s Immersion in Grandeur and Controversy. This little book is a primer in both qualities of this iconic park.
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Yellowstone Migrations

Among the wildlife that roam the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, there are clear-cut headliners. The restoration of wolves, the endangered status of grizzlies, and the culling of bison never fail to grasp the attention of readers worldwide. Yet so many more species share this vast landscape, and despite calling it home for 7,000 years, where and how they’ve survived has been uncovered only in the past two decades.
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Treasures Of The National Parks: Yesterday & Today

There have been many times as I have visited a national park over the years that I have wondered how the landscape has changed. What was it like in a world before walkways, hotels, gift shops and parking lots? How would it have been to visit Yellowstone before it was a wildlife reserve; the Grand Canyon when it was more of an obstacle than a wonder of the world; Yosemite when you had it to yourself?
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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.
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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.
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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!”
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