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The National Parks: America's Best Idea…
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The National Parks: America's Best Idea

by Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns

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Ken Burns is a National Treasure Along with our National Parks

In 1872 the United States Government created the first National Park on the globe: Yellowstone National Park. "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" tells the history of our National Parks system that sprung out of the collection of "artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and tourists" that found beauty and worth in the stunning natural world. John Muir was inspired by the majesty of the American landscape and became the voice for the preservation of our spectacular wilderness. Ken Burns' series on the National Parks is ever so timely as cynicism seems to be our new national voice. I highly recommend this book and Burns' documentaries and am convinced that those who pay attention to Burns' ideas will come away changed and inspired.

Ken Burns is an American treasure. My son and I were fortunate to meet him and thank him for the amazing work he has done to bring history to the forefront of public consciousness. We are lucky to have him and his art. ( )
  greggchadwick | Aug 5, 2011 |
I recommend the book, the audio book, and the DVD of this series to anyone who enjoys nature in any way. The book is a perfect bedtime story, something to read right before falling asleep. You can see pictures of the most beautiful places in the world and read about the battles that were won to protect them, and then you can dream about being there.I recommend the audio book for listening to during a stressful commute to work. The material is read by an impressive cast of narrators as well as the writers. While listening to the serenity of their voices, you can hear about the stories of Yosemite, Yellowstone, or any number of places that are still there today. And you can listen to all 13 compact discs on your way there this summer.I recommend the DVD set, to be seen in increments every other week, with the family or with friencs, when you're ready to sit back and enjoy watching another great Ken Burns production. Each story told takes you a little bit closer to another place where someone was changed forever by the nature of our country. This series highlights that universal experience -- coming closer to nature and wanting to do it again and again. While appreciating, through this series, the places to go, you can also appreciate the process that made their preservation possible. ( )
  kmulvihill | May 23, 2010 |
This book offers a great look at the history of our National Parks and how American History in general relates to the parks. It speaks of the years of hard work and triumphs, and all of the people whose lives were changed, even those whose lives were consumed by being involved with the National Parks.

The beautiful pictures made me yearn for wide open spaces and a simpler time. ( )
  tjblue | Jan 16, 2010 |
Showing 3 of 3
"The National Parks" is a firm and sincere handshake, rather than an embrace.

Still, the authors' painstaking assembly of lost stories and unsung heroes, along with their reverence for our natural heritage, render their book a necessary addition to the extensive library of national parks literature -- at a critical moment for America's best idea.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dayton Duncanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burns, Kenmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307268969, Hardcover)

Amazon Exclusive: Joseph J. Ellis Reviews The National Parks

Educated at the College of William and Mary and Yale University, Joseph J. Ellis is a Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. His Founding Brothers won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001, and American Sphinx earned the 1997 National Book Award. His latest work, American Creation, was published in 2007. Read Ellis's exclusive Amazon guest review of The National Parks: America's Best Idea:

If Ken Burns’s upcoming documentary film on America’s National Parks is as good as the book laying open before me, he has another huge winner. Of course the book, entitled The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, is intended as a companion to the film, but as I see it--literally--the book permits the eye and mind to linger over the truly breathtaking pictures in a more meditative way that film does not allow. The result is almost elegiac, producing the same kind of goose bumps that Burns created in his early work on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Civil War.

Burns has been chronicling the American experience for over thirty years, and I think it’s fair to say that no one has influenced more living Americans to think about our history as a people and a nation. His dominant themes have been space and race, his persistent question deceptively simple: who are we? I think The National Parks is his masterpiece on the space theme. And the message that kept whispering to me in these pages was that whoever we are has been decisively shaped by the sheer physicality of the continent we inhabit.

It never occurred to me before, but Americans invented the idea institutionalized in our National Parks. Namely, as Burns puts it in the introduction, “for the first time in human history, land--great sections of our natural landscape--was set aside, not for kings or noblemen or the very rich, but for everyone, for all time.” As Wallace Stegner once observed, and the book’s subtitle echoes, this may have been “America’s best idea.” Burns links the idea to Jefferson’s magic words in the Declaration of Independence (i.e. “We hold these truths...”), our quasi-sacred text on human freedom, which takes on an almost spiritual resonance amidst the vistas of Yosemite or Yellowstone.

Dayton Duncan, Burns's longtime colleague, has provided most of the text, which is designed to cast a spell that matches the wonder of the stunning illustrations. The book looks luxurious and feels expensive, but this visit to the National Parks is a great deal.--Joseph J. Ellis

(Photo © Jim Gipe)

Look Inside The National Parks

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(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:56 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

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.… (more)

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