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I have read many grizzly books and literature and this one stands alone. It is extremely realistic and the author is incredibly successful in putting the reader right there in Glacier Park with the bears. In a nutshell, this is a terrifying book. When I'm in grizzly country, I sometimes feel foolish with the precautions that I take when other (less-knowledgeable) tourists mindlessly cruise through the wilderness unharmed. This book puts those situations in perspective. That night in 1967, nobody thought the grizzlies were harmful because nobody had been killed in 57 years. The bears proved those tourists all wrong - they are very unpredictable. Buy this book.
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If you are an outdoor enthusiast, wait until after your next backcountry excursion to read Night of the Grizzlies, Jack Olsen's true account of two deadly grizzly encounters in Montana's Glacier National Park during the summer of 1968. I read it on my journey home after a week long camping trip with my girlfriend in Montana's Grizzly Country. Had I read it earlier in my trip, I surely would have spent the rest of my nights in sleepless fear and endured some terrifying backwoods hikes. Olsen masterfully sets a scene in which Man and Grizzly continually come into close contact with disaster narrowly averted. Before the attacks in Glacier, Grizzlies were treated as a nuisance in the park by both park officials and visitors alike. Indeed the general feeling at the park was that since no man had ever been killed by a bear in Glacier National Park no man ever would. At Granite Park Chalet, a kind of backcountry "resort", the bears nightly visits to the garbage dump were anticipated and applauded much like an after dinner comic at a Poconos lodge. What makes Olsen's account so strong is that while we sense where this precarious relationship between Man and Bear is going, when it gets there it is more horrifying than we could ever imagine. Outdoorsmen and urbanites alike will not be able to put this book down. The reader will be at once amazed by and terrified of the power and visciousness of the title beasts. Yet as the tale unfolds we see how Man has perhaps brought this tragedy upon himself. We weep for the two young girls who died such violent and gruesome deaths. But we also weep for the Grizzlies who merely wish to live as God intended, in the wilderness far from the smell of Man. Review by Larry Maier, Long Beach NY
In 1972 I had just arrived at Glacier, having driven across the country from Ohio, reading paperback books when it wasn't my turn to drive. I was reading this book the evening we arrived at Glacier (poor planning), and continued reading while my boyfriend set up the tent at a campground. The book was so engrossing, I read through dinner, and continued to read after he turned in. I finished at about 1:00 am, but was too frightened to walk the 20 feet from the car to the tent, so I spent the night, freezing the whole time, in the car. The next day we set out for the trailhead, and I've never, ever been so frightened on a backpacking trip. Yes, I remember the book vividly after more than 30 years!
An oldie but goodie, this book was first published in 1969. It's about the night in 1967 that two teenage girls were killed in different places and by different bears in Glacier National Park. At that time, there had never been a documented death due to grizzlies in the park (although in the following decades it became the worst place for bear attacks in all the Lower 48 States.)
I'm glad I read this book just a couple of months after reading Bear Attacks and Mark of the Grizzly, because it really allowed me to see the contrast in the way people thought about bears in the 1960's compared to now. The attitude towards bears back then seems so naive. At that time, people were still feeding grizzlies even in the national park (although technically that had been made illegal, the rule wasn't enforced) in order to lure the bears out where they could watch them. Even the author, though aware of the danger of habituated bears, still believed that wild bears (ones not accustomed to humans or to eating human food) were not at all threatening to humans if they were left alone. And the general public clearly believed that national park bears were used to humans and thus harmless and practically tame. But bears that are accustomed to humans and their food are the most dangerous bears of all; and both of the bears who preyed on sleeping humans that night were habituated bears.
The other bear books I read described numerous attacks, but this book concerns just two, so it is able to go into far more detail. It also gives some information which I suspect would be too gory, too personal, and too risky (for possible lawsuits) to be included in a nonfiction book nowadays.Read more ›
I read this book a two weeks after returning from hiking the Granite Park Chalet area of Glacier National Park (where one of the victims was killed) and so this book was even more chilling for me. The story is extremely well written and very engaging - I couldn't put it down. Olsen laces criticism of the National Park's policies (at the time of the killings) throughout, and effectively builds a sense in the reader of all the mistakes that had been made. As entertainment, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat. As education, hopefully it will remind us that grizzlies are to be respected and managed carefully, and not treated like public amusements or zoo exhibits. By the way, if you like this book, also try "Mark of the Grizzly", an excellent collection of bear attack stories which probes beyond the attacks and into the causes. It's up-to-date and really inspires a sense of respect for the great bears.
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