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Showing 1-10 of 83 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 139 reviews
on September 13, 2012
This book should be required reading for anybody going to Yellowstone National Park. Especially if you are a parent with children. We visit Yellowstone somewhat regularly and you would not believe some of the idiocy displayed by park visitors. This book puts enough of a scare into you that you will definately think twice before doing some of those things that little voice in your head says not to do. Be warned, this book is not for the faint of heart. It tells it like it is and often times I found myself almost in tears. While some of the stories are amusing, many are flat out sad. But the stories drive home the point that you have to obey the rules, which are put in place for specific reasons. Each time we go to Yellowstone we have a safety talk with our children on what you will not be doing. After my wife read this book to us on our way up to Yellowstone in 2009 the safety talk took on new meaning. And as one reviewer has already said, we began to watch people and would comment to ourselves, "And then they stepped over the barrier." I do highly recommend this book. Just understand that it does not pull any punches.
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on July 2, 2010
This nonfiction work is chilling but utterly fascinating, and serves as an emphatic caution for anyone who (like me) is planning a visit to the park. It is an account of all of the known deaths in the history of the park except for car accident fatalities and deaths due to illness.

The author lived and worked as a bus guide and then ranger in Yellowstone for over twenty years. He was involved in some of the incidents and knew several of the people mentioned in the book. He did a massive amount of research while writing it, and it shows. Each incident is thoroughly and impeccably documented, and Whittlesey often also provides detailed information from personal interviews with witnesses and family members.

The book is organized by means of death, with each chapter focusing on one particular type.

Being the unique place that it is, Yellowstone provides some unique ways to die. The book grabs the reader's attention instantly by starting right off with the strangest and most gruesome of all: by falling into one of the boiling hot pools of water for which the park is famous. I've always wondered if that has ever happened, and the answer is "yes." At least 20 known times, and probably 21, according to the author. (Since the book was published in 1995 there has been yet another such death.) Names, ages, and details are provided for each; and two victim's stories are told in great (and extremely intense) detail. It is impossible to convey the horror and morbid fascination of these accounts, yet they are a way of honoring the dead: by recognizing them as real people and realizing the extent of their suffering. And I guarantee that the stories will make anyone who reads them really, REALLY careful when they visit the park.

What's particularly surprising is that some people have actually survived falling into the hot springs. These were always people who were submerged only partially, though, such as up to their knees.

Being eaten by a grizzly bear runs a close second in the most gruesome ways to die in Yellowstone. Fortunately, this has happened less often (5 times as of 1995.) Each of these deaths is related in detail.

One of the most common means of death is by falling from a great height. Although that can happen many other places as well, these stories are also horrifying. Also common are fatalities due to hypothermia and drowning.

One of the saddest accounts tells of a little girl who was killed by boys throwing rocks in play from the cliffs above. The worst part is that when the boys - and their parents - were confronted by the girl's parents, they showed no remorse and did not even apologize, although they were told that the rocks had inflicted a severe head injury on the child.

Another unusual death was caused by toxic gas fumes that were emitted naturally from underground.

The only car accident included (because it was so unusual) was when a man (with his wife as passenger) accidentally backed a car off a very high cliff. Both were killed instantly.

Other means of death were: murder, suicide, lightning, earthquake, bison, eating poisonous plants, avalanches, cave-ins, falling trees, forest fires, battles (between Indians and whites in the1800's), horses, accidental shootings, diving, structural fires, stove explosions, stagecoach accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, airplane crashes, etc. The book also contains a chapter on people who are missing (usually for unknown causes) and presumed dead.

There are some great black and white photographs and drawings, often historical. (Don't worry, there are no graphic photos of corpses.) Besides an extensive bibliography and footnotes section, appendices also include maps of the three Yellowstone cemeteries and known gravesites that are located outside of the cemeteries.

This is a very disturbing but excellent book for adults. I definitely wouldn't recommend it for kids or for anyone with a weak stomach.

(246 pages)
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on December 1, 2012
I first bought this book before I got married and we were deciding where to Honeymoon. We were deciding between Hawaii, Yellowstone, and overseas - we ended up going to Hawaii. A few years later I finally got the opportunity to go to Yellowstone and then I returned the following year again and I hope to go back in a few years. I've only been to Hawaii once (ha, I'd rather go to Yellowstone). That said, it is extremely important to stay on marked trails and this book DRIVES this point home. The buffalo are not domesticated dogs, don't try to approach them. The book is full of mishaps, unfortunate events, falls, suicides, animal attacks, murders, and just plain stupidity. The first story (or one of the first) is about a guy jumping in a hot spring after a dog. Other people think they can win the "father of the year" award by trying to place their kids on top of a buffalo for a picture. Other people have been badly burned falling through the sinter by walking off trail. Recently (within a few years ago), a woman was actual badly burned ON TRAIL when she broke through to hot mud at Artists Paintpots. The landscape constantly changes and you will see steam at the side of the roads, and there are parking lots with sections blocked off because steam vents appeared under the asphault and broke through. The boardwalks are there for your safety. Stay on them. Read this book because nothing drives home the point like "Stay Away From The Animals" and "Stay On the Boardwalks" like reading about the deaths resulting from not heeding that advice.
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on March 23, 2017
Great read if you're hooked on Yellowstone! I read everything I can find written about this gorgeous piece of land, so it was interesting to read of the many fatal mistakes travelers have brought upon themselves in the name of adventure!
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on July 30, 2010
My husband and I purchased this book before our 3 week camping trip to the Zion, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in early June as I was fascinated by the reviews and subject matter described in this book. Generally I do not sleep well in tents, so I was able to read this book while trying to sleep when the temperatures reached the lower 30's in Yellowstone. Did not help me relax (!), but provided an added sense of adventure and danger....of course our experiences and wonder of the parks were excitement enough!
The stories and history of the park were interesting as we explored the park each day and remembered the events described in the book that occured at some of the sites. We did observe quite a few episodes such as "foolhardy" folks who walked off of the walkways (someone with kids and a small dog walking in the Midway Geyser Basin area!), or someone who turned their back to an elk! We were shocked that people could be so foolish...
Since our return home, there has been a freak thunderstorm in the Tetons causing lightning strikes to several climbers (with one death) ,a tranquilized bear attacked a hiker near Yellowstone, flash floods in Zion causing 3 hikers to be carried down 40yds, then 60yds down a river,a woman gored and tossed by a Bison when she got too close in YNP, and most recently a fatal bear attack (rare for a bear to attack multiple tents with food stored as directed) at the Soda Butte campground near the NE entrance to Yellowstone! (We had travelled to all of these areas in our trip)
The danger of the beautiful wilderness is unpredictable and man's interaction with it can be disastrous. There were even reports of Grizzly bears in our campground. Many of us have positive experiences, but a certain respect for nature and common sense can help.
This book was fun to read and share (i finished it when i got home to the comfort of my own bed!).
I also ordered Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler's Companion to the National Park from Amazon and this book was helpful in navigating our way through this beautiful park and its varied treasures...from geysers,fumaroles, paint pots,expansive green valleys, canyons, waterfalls, bison "jams", and yes, a Mama Grizzly and her cubs-were greatly apprciated and respected by these two "happy campers"! Sharing some of the stories from this book with fellow campers was kinda fun, too! Especially at night around the campfire...
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on May 16, 2016
Really good information on why to be cautious while visiting this park. Just because it's not exploding doesn't mean it's not an active volcano. Hold on to your kids and your pets. Also, bison are wild animals and this should be remembered as you will encounter them. Recommend this book for both people who want to visit the park and people that have already been there. Although there are newer books out there, this is highly informative about the dangers of an active volcano in which we all have access.
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VINE VOICEon March 29, 2009
Death in Yellowstone is a fascinating book in parts I picked up immediately after browsing through the book in the park bookstore.

The author chronicles deaths in the park since Americans have been in the area to record them. There are Indian scrapes, early explorers travails and the mundane car accidents and odd murder here and there.

By far the most unique are the deaths you won't find in the local section of your paper. People have been gored by buffalo, fallen into hot pots and geysers and frozen to death in the deep snows and incredibly harsh winter conditions that still see a few hearty souls exploring the back areas of the park.

Like a similar book "Death in the Grand Canyon" (which I also bought in that park's book store), this tome is interesting because of the odd and peculiar circumstances that have claimed lives in ways that could only happen in those parks.

The book is well written by a park historian and is factual and sober (as opposed to sensational or morbidly obsessive). An interesting read for those who have been out there.
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on April 10, 2017
Great stories. I preferred the other edition as it was just easier to read.
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on January 8, 2010
Just like watching a car crash. That's how I would describe my interest in this subject. I have never been to Yellowstone, but I love nature and I am very aware of what can happen to those who are careless. This book chronicles all (and I do mean all) of the deaths that have happened in Yellowstone park since it was founded. The first chapter is about deaths due to people who have fallen into hot springs and lakes. I was horrified at the accounts of people who were careless enough to fall into one of them. Just imagine sticking your hand into a boiling pot of water on your stove. Then imagine sticking most of your body in there and you will have an idea. People actually fell into these things and managed to crawl out just to exist in pure agony until they died of dehydration from not having any skin. Another chapter which caught my attention was the one pertaining to drowning. Campers would get into a 40 degree lake in a canoe loaded with hundreds of pounds of equipment with the edge of the canoe just 4 inches above the water (a picture is included), tip over, freeze and drown. There is a particularly gruesome story about a young woman who was camping alone and attacked by a bear. They found parts of her face near her tent and the rest of her strewn for some distance.

This book is extensively researched and documented. It does bog down a bit in death after death in the 1800's, and there is a body count on each page. It is morbidly fascinating and there are definitely lessons to be learned here. The author was a park ranger and steadfastly defends the park as family members of the deceased seek to blame, sue and otherwise disparage the park and its wilderness when the vast majority of deaths were inflicted due to carelessness and drunkenness. The book is very well organized and well written. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.
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VINE VOICEon September 2, 2005
Growing up in southeast Alaska, I've heard stories of tourists chasing a bear cub down the road near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau as well as a tourist getting bitten while trying to feed a sandwich to a bear. I've been yelled at by a tourist for clapping and making noise to alert bears to my presence while hiking because they were concerned they would not see a bear with all the noise I was making (well, that is the point). With my experience with how dumb tourists can be in Alaska, I was interested to find out stories of tourists and others in Yellowstone.

This was a book that I had mixed feelings about. The first three chapters were the best. These chapters were on deaths from hot springs, death by park animals (except bears), and death by bears. The remaining 22 chapters range from death by poison gasses to death by vehicles. I felt these chapters while factual, were not very exciting.

Overall, I found the book decently researched, but overall I found it kind of depressing. I found the first chapter on the hot springs quite horrific (especially when some of the victims were young kids like my children and a couple involved dogs that just wanted to go swimming). As I read the book, I kept thinking the victims were someone's children, spouse, SO, friends, or other loved one. With this being said, I did find the book respectful and tasteful.

This is a book I think people can take a lesson from. Nature is real and while it should be enjoyed, people need to be reminded that it can be dangerous.
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