The companion volume to the twelve-hour PBS series from the acclaimed filmmaker behind The Civil War, Baseball, and The War
America’s national parks spring from an idea as radical as the Declaration of Independence: that the nation’s most magnificent and sacred places should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. In this evocative and lavishly illustrated narrative, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan delve into the history of the park idea, from the first sighting by white men in 1851 of the valley that would become Yosemite and the creation of the world’s first national park at Yellowstone in 1872, through the most recent additions to a system that now encompasses nearly four hundred sites and 84 million acres.
The authors recount the adventures, mythmaking, and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system, and the enduring ideals that fostered its growth. They capture the importance and splendors of the individual parks: from Haleakala in Hawaii to Acadia in Maine, from Denali in Alaska to the Everglades in Florida, from Glacier in Montana to Big Bend in Texas. And they introduce us to a diverse cast of compelling characters—both unsung heroes and famous figures such as John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ansel Adams—who have been transformed by these special places and committed themselves to saving them from destruction so that the rest of us could be transformed as well.
The National Parks is a glorious celebration of an essential expression of American democracy.
Table of Contents
OUR BEST SELVES
A Treasure House of Nature's Superlatives
THE SCRIPTURE OF NATURE
Homeland: An Interview with Gerard Baker
FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE
Transcendence: An Interview with Shelton Johnson
EMPIRE OF GRANDEUR
Stories of Discovery: An Interview with Nevada Barr
Redefining Beauty: An Interview with Paul Schullery
Democracy at Its Best: An Interview with Juanita Greene
THE MORNING OF CREATION
This Is What We Loved: An Interview with Terry Tempest Williams
THE BEST DAY
About Dayton Duncan
Dayton Duncan, writer and producer of The National Parks, is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker. His nine other books include, with Ken Burns, Horatio’s Drive and Lewis & Clark. He has collaborated on all of Ken Burns’s films for twenty years as a writer, producer, and consultant. He lives in Walpole, New Hampshire.
About Ken Burns
Ken Burns, director and producer of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, has been making documentary films for more than thirty-five years. Since the Academy Award–nominatedBrooklyn Bridge in 1981, Burns has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The War, and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. Burns’s films have been honored with dozens of major awards, including thirteen Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Oscar nominations; and in September 2008, at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards, Burns was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ken Burns is represented by Random House Speakers Bureau (http://www.rhspeakers.com).
Praise for the PBS series:
“Stunning and restorative, like the parks themselves.” —Timothy Egan, The New York Times
“A masterful historic document, a vivid portrait of the land set against the stories of those who worked to acquire it and then protect it against those who still would dismantle or compromise it.” —David Hinckley, New York Daily News
“Beautiful and erudite . . . Underneath its wonder, The National Parks is really about how Americans learned (or failed to learn) proper stewardship of nature.” —Hank Stuever, The Washington Post