The companion volume to the twelve-hour PBS series from the acclaimed filmmaker behind The Civil War, Baseball, and The War.
America’s national parks spring from an idea as radical as the Declaration of Independence: that the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. In this evocative and lavishly illustrated narrative, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan delve into the history of the park idea, from the first sighting by white men in 1851 of the valley that would become Yosemite and the creation of the world’s first national park at Yellowstone in 1872, through the most recent additions to a system that now encompasses nearly four hundred sites and 84 million acres.
The authors recount the adventures, mythmaking, and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system, and the enduring ideals that fostered its growth. They capture the importance and splendors of the individual parks: from Haleakala in Hawaii to Acadia in Maine, from Denali in Alaska to the Everglades in Florida, from Glacier in Montana to Big Bend in Texas. And they introduce us to a diverse cast of compelling characters—both unsung heroes and famous figures such as John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ansel Adams—who have been transformed by these special places and committed themselves to saving them from destruction so that the rest of us could be transformed as well.
The National Parks is a glorious celebration of an essential expression of American democracy.
beautifully written and read history.
I won’t say that this book is riveting, or a page-turner, but it’s a really well-done history of the evolution on thinking about conservation in the USA. Of all the things we Americans claim credit for, this may be one of the truest and best-spirited of all our endeavors. It’s worth knowing about and learning that sometimes the most resisted and unpopular ideas turn out to be the ones that we are most admired for in the future. It’s the hard stuff, the stuff that we make sacrifices for that really counts in the long run.
The language of the book is lovely, if it doesn’t make you want to put down your cell phones and turn away from the digital screens and dead roadways of our vain and overwrought culture to go and see some of the places described, then I don’t know what will. I’ve seen a few of the parks and I’ll tell anyone who hasn’t to put it on your bucket list ‘cos looking at pictures isn’t the same as seeing and feeling these places. It may sound corny, but the lofty ideals that gave rise to the parks and the personal, spiritual conclusions drawn by the author are universal and true.
The National Parks
Anyone who has stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon or on the summit of Mt. Whitney or on wind swept Cadillac Mountian in Acadia National Park knows how important the National Parks are. But it were not always so. The story of how they came into being is a fascinating as the parks are varied. Listen and be inspired all over again.