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Death in Yellowstone by Lee Whittlesey

Death in Yellowstone (1995)

by Lee Whittlesey

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2963237,920 (3.84)17
  1. 00
    Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite by Michael P. Ghiglieri (prosfilaes)
    prosfilaes: Similar, but with better writing.
  2. 00
    Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri (infiniteletters, Helcura)
    Helcura: In the same vein, but much more engagingly written.

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is one of those books that was worth writing, even though it was not written so well. I listened to the audiobook, so didn't get a chance to check the writer's sources.

The writer himself grew up near and worked in Yellowstone as a guide, eventually becoming a lawyer. He is therefore interested in the legal cases that came up in relation to various deaths. He dismisses snowmobile accidents and automobile accidents as too numerous and banal to discuss, grandly. However, other causes may have snowmobiles or automobiles involved. For example, some exposure deaths involved snowmobiles, and at least one car was backed over a cliff (that's a fall).

The main point of the book might be that people can be incredibly stupid. Another point is that they will sue no matter how irresponsible and stupid they or the injured or killed persons were. A third point is that wilderness is wild and can kill you even if you are not stupid. Another point might be that wildness is valuable.

This book organizes the deaths by category, hot springs, bison, bear, exposure, falling, drowning, murder, stagecoach accidents, etc. This results in a lack of context, as the book moves from one time period to another, and then back again, over and over again. Another flaw is that, while individual stories are mostly quite factually told, and sometimes rather repetitive in their uniformity, the author will occasionally speculate, usually suggesting that the person who was killed may have been "overconfident". This does little for me.

Interesting, but not engrossing. ( )
  themulhern | Apr 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Since the title of this book was “Death” in Yellowstone, I was expecting it to be an investigation into one death. Instead it was a compilation the detailed descriptions of all the different ways people have died in Yellowstone. Burning, mauling, goring, poisoning, freezing, drowning and shooting are just a few of the calamaties. The gory aspects of some of these accounts -- especially the burns from falls into the hot springs -- were too much for me. This book might have been more accurately titled “Deaths in Yellowstone” so as to warn the reader of its contents.

I appreciate the organization of the book, the historical details and applaud the fantastic research that must have gone into it, but I am reminded of the Roberto Bolano book 2666 with its seemingly neverending accounts of murders. (“And the next victim was...”) Toward the end of Death in Yellowstone I found myself getting numbed by the multitude of painful details. I think there’s only so much of that the human psyche can take. Bolano used that as a creative and literary manipulation, but I don’t think it can work the same way in a book of non-fiction. ( )
  themagiciansgirl | Feb 24, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Note: This is an audio book that I received as part of the Early Reviewers program.

If I had to sum up this book in two words, those words would be "fascinating" and "long." The author has basically composed an encyclopedia of every known death in Yellowstone, dating back in some cases to the early-to-mid 1800s. Of the two large sections of the book--nature-caused deaths and human-caused deaths--deaths by nature was much more interesting to me. Overall though, many of the stories were downright fascinating. The only downside to the book was its sheer length--13 hours. I was not sure if I was ever going to get to the end! ( )
  jclemence | Feb 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this audio book from the Early Reviewers program and, once again, I had not read the description of what I requested closely enough. I thought this was going to be a murder mystery set in Yellowstone, but instead, it is a chronicle of seemingly every death that has occurred in the park since it's inception.

I will say three things about this book:

1. It is not for the squeamish. The author graphically relates stories of people being boiled alive in thermal springs, being flayed and eaten by bears and being gored by bison. It came as a relief when people just started dying by falling trees.

2. The stupidity of people apparently knows no bounds. The vast majority of the deaths related in the book could have been avoided if the victims ha just followed basic safety rules prominently displayed at the park.

3. About two thirds through the book I just got bored at so much death and it just was not interesting (or shocking anymore)

This is a good cautionary book for anyone venturing into America's National Parks, but the author would have better served the reader is he had eliminated some of the deaths he relates. We did not need to hear about every last one of them. ( )
1 vote etxgardener | Jan 16, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Yellowstone historian Lee H. Whittlesey did a magnificent job of documenting deaths occurring in or near Yellowstone National Park. He spent hours pouring through newspaper accounts and locating testimony of persons who witnessed the accounts as well as reading official superintendent reports which often included accounts of such incidents. The "in Yellowstone" portion of the title is a bit misleading as some of the reported deaths took place outside the park or in gateway cities. Since I was listening to the book in audio format, I wish these portions had been omitted to make the book not quite so long and seemingly repetitive. I really think this is a book which probably works best in print or e-book format where one can "skim read" portions. Much of this book needs to be read by persons preparing to visit Yellowstone so they are aware of the dangers of not following guidance of rangers and park literature. The narrator, Stephen R. Thorne did a good job convincing the reader he was the author and witnessed much of the book although he pronounced a few names of Southern locations a bit strangely. I received the audio version of the book from the Tantor Media through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for a review. This review refers to a reading of the 2nd edition of the book. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 11, 2017 |
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It is a mystery why anyone would dive head first into a Yellowstone hot spring merely to save a dog, but that is precisely what happened on July 20, 1981.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Yellowstone National Park has a long history of deaths by everything from earthquakes to bear attacks, poison gas, and lightning. Since 1870 there have been 300 deaths, all brought together in this fascinating book by a long-time chronicler of Yellowstone's history.… (more)

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Lee Whittlesey's book Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, 2nd Edition was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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