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Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807001198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807001196
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #350,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a terrific blend of adventure ('Seeing a bison gallop thirty miles an hour—as they can—is like seeing a grand piano suddenly sprout horns and charge you with the speed of a horse.') and ecological forecasting (and forewarning) that aptly conveys the passion of a devoted outdoorsman, and serves as a wake-up call to the state of our planet."—Publishers Weekly

“An informative, heartwarming and, at times, heart-stopping read.”—Colleen McBrinn, Today’s Travel blog
 
“The season’s must-read new memoir.”—Outside’s Raising Rippers blog
 
“A beautifully written, moving meditation.”—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle

"Before They're Gone is a beautifully written, moving meditation on the meaning of parenthood, our parks, and the first generation of children to grow up in the age of global warming."—Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods

“Intriguing premise; decent execution—certainly of interest to environmentalists and other eco-minded readers.”—Kirkus Review

“Michael Lanza braids a story of family, wilderness, and climate that's at once heartwarming and terrifying. I envy his kids for the incredible year they spent exploring America's finest wild places. And I mourn that they—and my own daughter—will have to endure the devastating consequences of our heating planet. Lanza makes abundantly clear that our children deserve better than the legacy we’re leaving them.”—John Harlin, author of The Eiger Obsession: Facing the Mountain that Killed My Father

“I grew up in a national park, worked in twelve others and have visited well over two hundred of them. Their values, for people like me, often are taken for granted. In this wonderful book, Michael Lanza’s children learn and experience what is most important about our national parks – the necessity to leave them ‘unimpaired for future generations’ – and why.”—Bill Wade, Chair, Executive Council, Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and former superintendent of Shenandoah National Park

“Delightful … a fresh and engaging way to tell the climate change story.”—Laura Helmuth, senior science editor, Smithsonian

“Wilderness adventurers like Lanza are the advance scouts of global warming, bringing back firsthand testimony from pristine landscapes that powerfully corroborates what climate scientists are telling us about our changing planet. But this eyewitness report is much more than an impassioned polemic: it’s also an entertaining collection of backcountry anecdotes—surprise encounters with grizzlies, anxious moments on glaciers and wild coastlines, jaw-dropping views from remote summits—that bring climate change to life in a way that’s more palpable and persuasive than any data chart. Above all, Before They’re Gone is a fetching love letter to Mike’s wife, children, and friends and to the wild places he treasures as only a hiker, climber, and explorer can.”—Jonathan Dorn, editor in chief, Backpacker

About the Author

Michael Lanza is a veteran freelance outdoors writer and photographer. He is the northwest editor of Backpacker magazine, where his articles about the impacts of climate change on Montana’s Glacier National Park and other wild lands helped Backpacker win a National Magazine Award. He runs the website TheBigOutside.
 

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kristal D. Cooper on April 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm going to give this author the highest praise I can think of: His writing style is Krakauer-esque. The words and phrases he uses to describe the outdoors and his family's experiences evoke perfect images. Some may think it's hyperbole, but I assure you that our National Parks are worthy.

One of my favorite lines: "Powerful landscapes like the Tetons will manhandle your psyche; they can make you wonder what the hell you've been doing all these years, for which you won't have a satisfying answer." (This exact scenario happened to me and my husband during a vacation to Zion, after which we quit our high-paying jobs, bought an RV, and moved to the Grand Canyon. In the five years since, we've worked and lived in five National Parks - each an experience beyond belief.) If YOU haven't felt the emotion Lanza describes in that quote, I say: "Get thee to a National Park." Quick!

And that's the jist of this book... The parts of this country that were so unique we decided to make them National Parks and protect them for posterity are being dramatically changed by global warming. Everything IS connected and Lanza does a great job of laying out the parade of cause and effect that will make our country's most special treasures un-recognizable in just a few decades.

This is a book with an important message, but there are plenty of personal anecdotes and fun thrown in too. I recommend it to anyone and everyone -- you'll enjoy the ride and learn a lot as you go.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stumbles on April 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Lanza has delivered a hat-trick of an read that I couldn't put down. As an engaged citizen, his ability to deliver the message of climate change and its impact on lands I love was real and compelling. As an outdoor lover, Before They're Gone took me back to familiar stomping grounds at some of our national jewels while adding new 'must do' trips to my life-list. And as a parent of children the same age as Lanza's children, I read his book with awe and admiration for a parent who so purposefully is creating such a rich childhood and lifelong memories for his whole family. The only better thing than finishing his book was the permit arriving in the mail last week for our first backpacking trip in a National Park with my children that was inspired by his example. Lanza's gift to me will go far beyond his inspirational and entertaining writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By terrg on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Before They're Gone is equal parts travel journal, personal memoir, and environmental reality check. Author Michael Lanza's year long quest to share with his children the now most threatened parks in America is both bittersweet, and heartwarming. Liberally sprinkled with memories of past treks, scientific data, and the simple pleasures of a parent spending time with his kids. Michael's detailed, and often times humorous, writing makes you long to be relaxing in the shade of lodgepole pines in the Rocky Mountains, or watching the sun set in the Everglades, right alongside them. To me, Before They're Gone is proof that even though our environment is changing, and not for the better, we can still celebrate, enjoy, and hopefully preserve, what we have left.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Church on September 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I usually avoid memoirs because the writing is often sub par. But this book was extremely well-written (the author is a professional writer) and the subject matter was spot on. I was expecting a book about the hopelessness of global warming and the inevitability of environmental collapse, but instead this was a joyful memoir about one man's attempts to show his children some of our country's most endangered areas. I thought the author was successful in conveying the urgency of our need for change without the gloom and doom of a disaster prophecy. It was also nice to see how the author taught his children the importance of environmental issues and the value of our national parks. He never "beat the issues over their heads" but waited for the teachable moments in which his kids were interested. I thought he did a good job in keeping his kids motivated while helping them enjoy their various backpacking and camping trips. Aside from the environmental issues for which this book was written, it's a great how-to manual for young parents who think backpacking should be put aside until the kids are all grown up. Yes you CAN take young children backpacking!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Brown on May 10, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Little more than endlessly regurgitating climate change statistics. I get it already. Not a book on how to hike with children
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