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Yellowstone: The Creation and Selling of an American Landscape, 1870-1903 Paperback – November, 1999

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


." . . well-researched and clearly presented . . . "Yellowstone is of compelling interest to anyone with even a passing interest into past- and present-day dangers to a national treasure . . ."

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Published in cooperation with Montana Historical Society Press

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (November 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826321208
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826321206
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,028,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on November 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Yellowstone is not a primeval wilderness but a national park visited by three million tourists a year, inhabited by thousands of seasonal workers and a most number of full-time employees. It is a part of American society, not apart from American society. In this book, Magoc invites us to see the world's first national park as a human creation, not a natural one. Whether attractive to explorers, upper-class tourists or the middle class in their minivans, whether looking for sublime but terrible scenery, wildlife out the car window, or imaging an intact ecosystem, the human relationship with Yellowstone reflects our changing preoccupations.

Magoc's narrative develops those themes more consistently than other histories of the park, but those ideas will be familiar to those who have read those earlier works. The narrative also brings few factual surprises - - except for some unfortunate minor errors. (For example: Magoc classifies the Sheepeaters as Arapaho, not Shoshone; he refers to author Susan Fenimore Cooper, not James; and he refers, anachronistically, to "motels" in 1871.) His major advantage is his insistence on connecting the park to wider economic, cultural and political themes - themes often minimized by those who want to see Yellowstone as "unique."

Magoc tells his story efficiently, in a picture-heavy 190 pages. It's readable, and the consistent vision makes it worth a read for the Yellowstone enthusiast. It's less lively, but more scholarly, than Schullery; more lively but less thorough than Bartlett, Barringer or Haines. Though it will not nudge the other histories off your shelf, it will sit very happily next to them.
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Format: Paperback
Chris Magoc's environmental and cultural history of the early years of Yellowstone National Park is superbly researched and extraordinarily well written. It turns upside down a number of the popular myths about the park and provokes reconsideration of many of the sacred myths we Americans hold dear about our most treasured landscapes, among which is the idea that they are "virgin" and inviolable spaces, that they are "set apart" from the culture and economic structures of capitalism.
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