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Engineering Eden: The True Story of a…
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Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the…

by Jordan Fisher Smith

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7940214,584 (3.83)17
  1. 00
    Yellowstone Has Teeth by Marjane Ambler (amerynth)
    amerynth: Great account by a woman who worked in the park and wintered over. Includes an interesting interview about fed bears in Yellowstone.
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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is not only an amazing story of wildlife management on public lands but of how the landmark case that finally allowed plaintiffs to sue the federal government came to be. This book was well written and offers and great deal of information on how we use our public lands and how this impacts the ecological chain. Smith is an excellent writer whose grasp of how the USFS and other federal agencies function as well as the legal issues that arise when humans come in contact with wild animals is marvelous. Overall recommended for anyone interested in the history of the Forestry Service ( )
  arelenriel | May 14, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Engineering Eden examines the issues around management of public lands, parks, ecosystems and large animals. It does so through stories of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, including fatal bear-human interactions. At the same time, it does so through the history of John and Frank Craighead, Starker Leopold, and other iconic early environmentalists. I thought I was aware of much of this history, but I learned a lot. I'd recommend the book to those interested in understanding the questions of how to manage public resources and strike a balance between protecting wildlife and ecosystems and providing positive visitor experiences. ( )
  Helenoel | Mar 17, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Jordan Fisher Smith's "Engineering Eden" is an engaging look at wildlife management policy at Yellowstone National Park, from the park’s formation through the 1980s. Smith frames the story using a court trial regarding a well-known bear attack, which occurred at the park in the 1970s. Unfortunately, that framing device does not work particularly well.

The first third of the book is quite difficult to follow. It introduces characters that don’t become major players until much further along. It jumps back to the early days at Yellowstone. It talks about mauling victim’s life on the family farm in Alabama. It tells the story of ecological research in the early 1900s. I can’t help but think it would be more successful if the author did less jumping between story lines early on; leading off with the history of Yellowstone, perhaps, then introducing the court drama later in the narrative.

Mr. Smith presents an interesting look at wildlife management at Yellowstone. While individual sections are generally engaging and well-written, the book as a whole is hampered by a lack of organization. ( )
  DoctorDebt | Feb 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Jordan Fisher Smith spent many years as a park ranger and rescue medic in the American west. His knowledge of the wild shines through in Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight over Controlling Nature. The volume of detail about wildlife in this book is much more that what I expected. Smith's familiarity with the subject makes for interresting reading.

The author leaves little doubt that the suffering endured by a young Harry Walker in 1972 was short-lived. The powerful grizley surely brought nearly instantaneous death with its ferocious attack. Since no one else was right there at the time, we can only guess how long it took for Walker's life to be ended. But to say the duration was short is reasonable certainty. Thankfully that kind of death is rare.

While there are also other grizzley attacks documented, the book covers much more than that. A rich history is told about the national park system in the United States. We learn for instance that people once could visit Yellowstone National Park for public viewing of caged animals. It's almost impossible today to imagine wild beasts being caged there as creatures of curiosity. Managers of Yellowstone and other national parks have become much more acquetly aware of the need to protect the ecosystem.

This is an interesting look at how man interacts with beast. The author brings to life a young man whose father had hoped would come back home to Alabama to save the family farm. One wonders what would have become of Harry had a creature of the wild not cut his life short. No doubt he would have, at least in the short term, followed in the footsteps of his father. Sadly that can only be conjecture.
  JamesBanzer | Feb 1, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A book about a bear attack, the policy regarding wild animals and our national parks. Should we help nature or let nature take its course. destroy predators or allow them to keep numbers of other animals down even though it may hurt farmers. these are question this book looks at. an engaging read because it gives insight how park manager look at these issues and depending on your view or politics help or hurt the competing issues. a lot of information in the book and from my uncorrected proof well sourced.

Considering I knew little about the policies of the National Park System this book was enlightening. I am interested in reading some of the books the author used as reference for this book.

I received this book as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. ( )
  foof2you | Dec 30, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307454266, Hardcover)

The fascinating story of a trial that opened a window onto the century-long battle to control nature in the national parks. 

When twenty-five-year-old Harry Walker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone Park in 1972, the civil trial prompted by his death became a proxy for bigger questions about American wilderness management that had been boiling for a century. At immediate issue was whether the Park Service should have done more to keep bears away from humans, but what was revealed as the trial unfolded was just how fruitless our efforts to regulate nature in the parks had always been. The proceedings drew to the witness stand some of the most important figures in twentieth century wilderness management, including the eminent zoologist A. Starker Leopold, who had produced a landmark conservationist document in the 1950s, and all-American twin researchers John and Frank Craighead, who ran groundbreaking bear studies at Yellowstone. Their testimony would help decide whether the government owed the Walker family restitution for Harry's death, but it would also illuminate decades of patchwork efforts to preserve an idea of nature that had never existed in the first place.  

In this remarkable excavation of American environmental history, nature writer and former park ranger Jordan Fisher Smith uses Harry Walker's story to tell the larger narrative of the futile, sometimes fatal, attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it. Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled twentieth-century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management. Moving across time and between Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks, Engineering Eden shows how efforts at wilderness management have always been undone by one fundamental problem--that the idea of what is "wild" dissolves as soon as we begin to examine it, leaving us with little framework to say what wilderness should look like and which human interventions are acceptable in trying to preserve it.    

In the tradition of John McPhee's The Control of Nature and Alan Burdick's Out of Eden, Jordan Fisher Smith has produced a powerful work of popular science and environmental history, grappling with critical issues that we have even now yet to resolve.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 07 Mar 2016 20:55:26 -0500)

"The fascinating story of a trial that opened a window onto the century-long battle to control nature in the national parks. When twenty-five-year-old Harry Walker was killed by a bear in Yellowstone Park in 1972, the civil trial prompted by his death became a proxy for bigger questions about American wilderness management that had been boiling for a century. At immediate issue was whether the Park Service should have done more to keep bears away from humans, but what was revealed as the trial unfolded was just how fruitless our efforts to regulate nature in the parks had always been. The proceedings drew to the witness stand some of the most important figures in twentieth century wilderness management, including the eminent zoologist A. Starker Leopold, who had produced a landmark conservationist document in the 1950s, and all-American twin researchers John and Frank Craighead, who ran groundbreaking bear studies at Yellowstone. Their testimony would help decide whether the government owed the Walker family restitution for Harry's death, but it would also illuminate decades of patchwork efforts to preserve an idea of nature that had never existed in the first place. In this remarkable excavation of American environmental history, nature writer and former park ranger Jordan Fisher Smith uses Harry Walker's story to tell the larger narrative of the futile, sometimes fatal, attempts to remake wilderness in the name of preserving it. Tracing a course from the founding of the national parks through the tangled twentieth-century growth of the conservationist movement, Smith gives the lie to the portrayal of national parks as Edenic wonderlands unspoiled until the arrival of Europeans, and shows how virtually every attempt to manage nature in the parks has only created cascading effects that require even more management. Moving across time and between Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Glacier national parks, Engineering Eden shows how efforts at wilderness management have always been undone by one fundamental problem--that the idea of what is 'wild' dissolves as soon as we begin to examine it, leaving us with little framework to say what wilderness should look like and which human interventions are acceptable in trying to preserve it. In the tradition of John McPhee's The Control of Nature and Alan Burdick's Out of Eden, Jordan Fisher Smith has produced a powerful work of popular science and environmental history, grappling with critical issues that we have even now yet to resolve"--… (more)

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