100 Years of National Parks | LJ Reviews

In observance of the centennial of the National Parks Service’s founding, several publishers are releasing works that examine the history of the parks and the beauty and adventure to be found within their borders.

redstarFishkin, Shelley Fisher. Writing America: Literary Landmarks from Walden Pond to Wounded Knee (A Reader’s Companion). Rutgers Univ. 2015. 400p. photos. ISBN 9780813575971. $34.95; ebk. ISBN 9780813575995. REF

writingamerica.jpg1516Fishkin (English, director of American studies, and Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities, Stanford Univ.; Mark Twain’s Book of Animals) offers lengthy essays on literature-related places that book lovers can add to their travel plans. Around half of the entries are dedicated to locations in the northeastern United States, such as Walden Pond in Massachusetts and New York’s Tenement Museum. Also profiled are, for example, Angel Island Immigration Station, San Francisco, and Manzanar National Historic Site in Independence, CA. The essays, which are complemented by large black-and-white photos, chronicle the life of the place in question and provide detail on its literary connection. “The House That Uncle Tom’s Cabin Bought,” for example, which covers the Harriet Beecher Stowe House in Hartford, CT, describes its construction and architecture, Stowe’s purchase and decoration of the home after the worldwide success of her novel, additional places where the author lived, and more. Some of the other essays describe a larger area and multiple related literary works; both styles of essay will be valuable tourist guides. VERDICT A must for book-loving travelers of the armchair and more intrepid kinds.

redstarHeacox, Kim. The National Parks: An Illustrated History. National Geographic. 2015. 368p. photos. ISBN 9781426215599. $50. REF

Hundreds of color images of the National Park Service’s 407 areas that come from the pages of the iconic magazine over the years are the highlight of this work. The images are accompanied by archival text, and history written for this book by former Denali National Park Ranger Heacox. As the photographs are archival, some look aged or grainy, but they are beautiful and affecting nonetheless. Several foldout images that are the length of two spreads do justice to huge attractions such as a 3,200-year-old redwood tree called the President that towers 247 feet over Sequoia National Park. The title covers destinations as iconic as Yellowstone and Antietam National Battlefield but also smaller places that might not spring to mind as coming under the National Park Service’s remit, such as the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Less expected again are locations outside the 50 States, with parks in Guam, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa, featured. VERDICT Gorgeous in every way, and essential for travel and history shelves.

National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States. 8th ed. National Geographic. Feb. 2016. 496p. photos. maps. ISBN 9781426216510. pap. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781426217517. REF

Prospective tourists will find their travel decisions made easier by this guide’s detailed descriptions of various destinations complemented by which attractions to see; the best times to go; visitor center information; camping and other lodging details; security concerns at the park; and more. Entries are presented by region and then alphabetically. VERDICT This beautifully and heavily illustrated guide will help readers decide which of the 59 scenic U.S. national parks to visit.

Shive, Ian. The National Parks: An American Legacy. Insight Editions. 2015. 240p. photos. ISBN 9781608874088. $50. REF

Shive, recipient of the 2011 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, laments a new situation in National Parks; the artist says that he now spends more time beating the crowds than on creativity. The throngs should save their energy; Shive offers here panoramas and details that amateurs cannot hope to re-create. His images form the core of the coffee-table title, but they are interspersed with page-long appreciations of Acadia, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, the Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Tetons National Parks by contributors such as the Friends of Acadia and the Everglades Foundation. A theme visited throughout the introductions by Shive and president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association W. Clark Bunting and the essays is that park preservation is essential. VERDICT This is an enjoyable look at glorious resources, but Kim Heacox’s The National Parks is more comprehensive and is the same price.

redstarA Thinking Person’s Guide to America’s National Parks. George Braziller. Apr. 2016. 300p. ed. by Robert Manning & others. photos. index. ISBN 9780807600191. pap. $24.95. ref

thinkingperson.jpg1516Offering “new perspectives on appreciating and sustaining” national parks, this in-depth title also provides considerable historical detail and a look at the parks as treasures of the American spirit. The photos on every page illustrate essays that cover the landscapes as places to play and learn, as well as resources that must be conserved carefully. The chapter “Indigenous Voices” makes this title stand out from others on the topic, as does an examination of what the parks system learned from similar areas abroad. VERDICT A worthwhile title for prospective visitors who want more than a straightforward travel guide.

The Wonder of It All: 100 Stories from the National Park Service. Yosemite Conservancy. Mar. 2016. 306p. photos. ISBN 9781930238626. pap. $18.95. REF

These short memoir-type entries from National Park Service workers make it clear that wondrous experiences are hard to avoid in their jobs. Each story is imbued with the authors’ passion for their work and relates insider details that will be of interest to past and future visitors. Many entries relate fondly the authors’ childhood park vacations; others discuss the joy they felt upon gaining a park job or volunteer position; and almost all relate the pride park employees feel in nurturing these resources for future generations and providing lasting memories for today’s tourists. The accounts, many of which are accompanied by black-and-white photos of the contributors and of park scenes, also delve into the varied jobs performed by park employees. VERDICT A fun choice for careers shelves and a great browse for parks enthusiasts.—Henrietta Verma, ­formerly with Library Journal

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Henrietta Verma About Henrietta Verma

Henrietta Verma is Senior Editorial Communications Specialist at NISO, the National Information Standards Organization, Baltimore, and was formerly the reviews editor at Library Journal.

Comments

  1. Velma says:

    Great delivery. Great arguments. Keep up the good spirit.