A thoughtful study of a celebrated natural wonder that has come to truly “embod[y] American ideals.”

A sensitive portrait of the iconic national park in terms of the American people’s place in it.

American history and culture converged in the creation and preservation of Yellowstone National Park, as Montana journalist Clayton (Stories from Montana's Enduring Frontier: Exploring an Untamed Legacy, 2013, etc.) delineates in his fine survey. The author proceeds chronologically in his exploration of the many layers of Yellowstone’s significance, from its geological magnificence to its function as a romantic symbol of American self-image and illustration of the dire urgency for ecological attention. Clayton chronicles the stories of people who have been profoundly moved by the natural site and how their sagas dovetail with a larger cultural picture, beginning with the first intentional American expedition (the author sets aside Native American life for another study) by “upper-class explorers” in 1870-1871, which included painter Thomas Moran, who “intended to transform the nature he witnessed into art, into a piece of culture for others to consume,” and “scientist-bureaucrat” Ferdinand Hayden. As the concept of a romantic Western landscape merged with the sense of America's Manifest Destiny, Yellowstone grew in political stature and importance, as did its need for preservation by the 1880s (although Clayton reminds us that the National Park Service was not founded until 1916). Other significant personages in the development of the park as a cultural touchstone (and not just a sanctuary for wild animals) included architect Robert Reamer, who designed and built the eclectic Old Faithful Inn in 1903-1904; National Park leaders Horace Albright and Hermon Carey Bumpus, who advocated for roads and museums to make the park more accessible and “teachable”; twin brothers Frank and John Craighead, who conducted groundbreaking experiments with electronic trackers on grizzlies and other animals; and the valiant firefighters and ecologists who helped the park return to health after devastating fires in 1988.

A thoughtful study of a celebrated natural wonder that has come to truly “embod[y] American ideals.”

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-457-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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