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Before They're Gone: A Family's Year-Long Quest to Explore America's Most Endangered National Parks Hardcover – April 3, 2012
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"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.
Top customer reviews
But I think your book espouses a great deal of hope as well in getting your kids out there. My kids are 10 and 7, and i too try to get them out as often as possible. Over the last year, my oldest has asked how climate change is impacting national parks we visit. This winter we went to Death Valley and she asked the ranger about such change when we were in Badwater. He said to look at the "lowest point" sign, and of course the elevation below sea level is changing. There are many other changes too, but I think people just say Badwater has a fixed elevation, or even Everest, but it's not.
Maybe that doesn't sound hopeful, but I think by taking my kids to national parks that they see beautiful things, learn of the pending threats, and determine to preserve them. Hopefully they believe they can stem the tide, and maybe it's going to just take another generation to get there.
Thanks again for writing such a great book, I really enjoyed it!
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.