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Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged Paperback – October 1, 1988

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"A detailed, well documented history of the extablishment (in 1872), growth, and maturation of Yellowstone National Park . . . America's (and the world's) first national park." —Wildlife Book Review

"Without question the best and most thought-provoking volume on America's first national park that has been written in the last half-century." —Journal of the West

"Broad ranging, informative, thoughtful, and simply fun to read." —Western Historical Quarterly --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 437 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (October 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816510989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816510986
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,852,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book provides an academic history of Yellowstone National Park. Unlike some academic histories, it's readable and interesting. However, it does have endnotes and other parts of the academic apparatus, and it's concerned with getting facts right.. Bartlett is not trying for any big Theory here, just giving us a narrative of the park.

Bartlett's main interest is the history of the tourism business in Yellowstone, and the main narrative ends in the 1960s when large national corporations took over the concessions from local firms. Thus, the title is a bit of a misnomer - - the serious besieging of wilderness came in the 1960s and 1970s, when Bartlett's story is more or less over. In addition, he's not particularly interested in the wilderness or the nature (he has a different book for that).

The organization of the book is thematic, but in a way that lets Bartlett tell a more-or-less chronological story. The book's 15 chapters are divided into five parts: the visitors, the concessionaires, the superintendents, the raiders and defenders, the people. He begins with the earliest Euro-American visitors, and his accounts of local pioneer families visiting the park are distinctive in the Yellowstone literature. His concessionaire stories begin well before Yellowstone becomes a park, and he emphasizes the many different small firms rather than the larger consolidations that emerged after the National Park Service arrived in 1916. Similarly, he spends much more time on the pre-1916 superintendents and surprisingly little space even on Horace Albright, much less Albright's successors.

In short, this is a valuable book if for Yellowstone's first half-century or so, much less so for the post-1945 period. It's best if you're interested in the tourists and the visitors who serve them, not so useful for wildlife and natural history.
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