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Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  809 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Intriguing stories of how people have died in Yellowstone warn about the many dangers that exist there and in wild areas in general.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Roberts Rinehart Publishers
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The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne FrankNight by Elie WieselUnder the Banner of Heaven by Jon KrakauerInto Thin Air by Jon KrakauerThe Invention of Religion by Alexander Drake
Must Read Non-Fiction
248th out of 1,257 books — 1,430 voters
Into the Wild by Jon KrakauerOff the Wall by Michael P. GhiglieriAnything Worth Doing by Jo DeurbrouckThe Last Season by Eric BlehmDeath in Yellowstone by Lee H. Whittlesey
Accidents and Death in the Wilderness
5th out of 92 books — 16 voters

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this book has a fantastic title. i love the word-choice of "foolhardiness", and i thought i would really enjoy reading a book about people doing stupid things and paying for them with their liiiiives. which i think makes me a bad person, but since a lot of these deaths take place in the 1800's, there is enough distance that it makes it less of a character flaw in me, and more of an abiding interest in historical circumstances. is what i am telling myself. but lee h. whittlesey is not gong to be ...more
A man from Brussels falls into a thermal pool and dies after his legs are boiled, later the small spring is renamed Belgian pool. A young man from Alabama camps illegally and is eaten by a bear. This a chronicling of "accidents and foolhardiness", with the emphasis put by the author on foolhardiness. It's definitely morbid and the attitude towards the "fools" can be a bit disturbing, but there are some riveting stories here, and they are described in a refreshingly matter-of-fact way. You don't ...more
The book may appear daunting, but only about 3/4 of it are stories. The last quarter is dedicated to end notes and more information about the cemeteries of Yellowstone.

Do not read this book BEFORE or DURING your stay at Yellowstone. I read the book right after I left the park's borders and it left me with the willies for a long time. It is definitely not for those who can't stomach disgusting and grotesque things. For example, they describe in detail what happens to a person's body post-geyser a
Wilderness is impersonal. It does not care whether you live or die. It does not care how much you love it.

So while we are loving the Yellowstone wilderness, while we play in it, indeed revel in it, taking it on its own terms and helping to protect it, we foolish mortals must always remember to respect it. For not only can it bite us, but, indeed, it can devour us.

While reading this my first thought was he could have just subtitled it, "People are stupid". Indeed, most of the deaths in this book
I got this book from my local library, but I understand that it's also sold at Yellowstone itself. This is probably a public service. But the sad truth is that the people who really need to see it, who think that the boardwalks around hot geysers are just suggestions, that the bears must be tame and look so terribly hungry, or that it would be fun to swim just above the falls are exactly the people who won't read and absorb the lessons of this book. For a book about horrible ways that people can ...more
Did you know that if you fall (or jump) into one of Yellowstone's boiling geothermal pools, you will not only die a slow, painful death, but your eyes will turn completely white---just like a boiled fish. Yep. It's in the book. Oh--and Grizzly bears like to slash through your tent and pull you out while you are sleeping. Thought you were safe because you hung your food up? Nope.
I am not, by nature, ghoulish (oh, maybe just a tad), but this book is really good bathtub reading. The "foolhardiness" aspect of the title was what intrigued me. I had no idea how many visitors to Yellowstone should be eligible for The Darwin Awards. This is "truth stranger than fiction" reading at its best.

This book is thoroughly researched and jam packed with information. For that I give it 4 stars.

It is so thorough, though, that at points it gets pretty dry. It starts out so dramatically with the death-by-thermal-pool chapter, that everything after that doesn't really measure up.

Granted, not that I want people to die in more dramatic ways so that it'll be more interesting to read...

It is more that the thermal pools are such a bizarre and horrific way to die, everything else seems... tame. I had
No mystery what the book is about; the title says it all. However, word of caution: If you're hoping for a Faces of Death account of death in Yellowstone, this isn't your book. But, if you'd like a tastefully written, historical recounting of the various ways in which people have died in Yellowstone in the last 100 years, then Whittlesey's book IS for you. Lots of interesting information, lots of common sense reminders about life in the the wilderness. Whittlesey says it best:

"While appreciatin
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
The main idea of this book is: respect the wilderness! Whittlesey has done a very thorough job of chronicling every death that has occurred in or near Yellowstone National Park. Chapters are arranged by means of death. What strikes me repeatedly is that people simply ignore or fail to understand warning signs and rules-- they're there for a reason, and restrictions and rules are there for a reason as well. The animals in the park are NOT part of a zoo or petting zoo-- they're wild and potentiall ...more
Like many, I got this book while in Yellowstone. I bought it shortly after a canoe camping trip that had so many mishaps we could have ended up in the next edition of this book. Maybe I'm morbid, but I did enjoy reading about all the ways that things can go horribly wrong in the most beautiful place on earth. A word to the wise: if your dog goes into a thermal pool, don't dive in after it, okay?
I purchased this book at 9:00 am today at the Canyon Village Visitor Education Center in Yellowstone National Park, and finished reading it today at 5:30 pm, on the road northwest between Riverton, Wyoming, and Dubois, Wyoming. (If you have traveled in western Wyoming, or even if you haven’t, there are long stretches of road with only sagebrush and far-off mountains in sight; perfect for reading while one’s husband is driving.)

Yellowstone is wilderness, and the National Park Service (and before
Death in Yellowstone was saddening, but also very comical. The deaths were humorous because of how dumb they were. Many of these deaths were about idiotic people jumping into hot springs or aggravating bears, but some you could find sympathy. Other deaths were just rumors, and others were just injuries. Overall, this book explained many kinds of hilarious and sad deaths.

This book was for entertainment and information. One of my favorite parts of the book was when a lady questioned what danger m
People are really stupid. Sometimes incredibly unlucky. I'm so glad the author added the subtitle about foolhardiness. The author is a great researcher and most of the book at the back is notes, references, index, etc. My husband heard him speak at seasonal training in May in Yellowstone. Whittlesey divides the book into topics of HOW people died. I believe the beginning was about the hot springs and various pools. One guy JUMPED IN after his dog (even after others around him said, "Don't!") and ...more
I wanted to enjoy it far more than I actually did, I'm afraid. While I thought the subject matter was very interesting, I found the presentation to be pretty bland. It was all presented in the following format: x number of people died in this fashion, here are their names, here is what happened. Very dry and repetitive and, consequently, boring at times.

I'm actually rather impressed at how few people have died in Yellowstone, considering how many people visit every year and how long the park ha
Ethan Brody
This book is a goodread for non fiction lovers. The book has a lot of stories of accidents and horror stories. It went into great detail of certain things as the book is a very well written book with detail and very good stories. Warning: If sensitive to death and graphic topics, please don't read.
I can't help myself, reading these sorts of things. Maybe it's because of my profession. It might interest you to know that days before we arrived an 18-year-old from Russia working at the concessions died from a fall into the canyon by Inspiration Point, and another person died in a traffic accident. The book was published before the two deaths by bear last year, too. There are no memorials to all the various tragedies in the park, only current warning signs.
Booklist magazine says it best, "A little morbid, but strangely fascinating."
Pam Jessen
OK, yes, the book is morbid - and parts of it were dry - but overall, I found it pretty interesting. It was written in a very factual, no-nonsense tone for the most part, with occasional commentary/opinion by the author. Through reading it, I feel like I got to know the park, its history, and some of its characters. There were a lot of memorable stories and details, and I was probably driving the people around me a little crazy, because every few minutes, I'd pipe up "Listen to this!" It was one ...more
Quick read detailing deaths in the history of Yellowstone National Park. Some are tragic, and some are "doh!"
While at times the list nature of the names of the dead were tedious overall the book was an interesting tale of the foolishness of man in the great outdoors. It seems if there is a way for man to die he has accomplished it in Yellowstone.
I was surprised at how boring this book was for me. The fact that the events go back to 1939 might be the reason. I just can't relate to stories involving stagecoaches or Indian attacks. I think it's a little too simple to try to judge someone's actions that occur in an era when they might not have had the information that we now have.

I found it disturbing that the author used silly poems and play on words that trivialized these tragic events. To say that suicide is even more tragic when it occu
Caitlin Zimyeski
Read while in Yellowstone. Don't do that unless you have a somewhat weird sense of humor.
Anne Boardman
I do a lot of adventure travel and find myself in situation not for the faint of heart. But I do so with care in spite of what my family and friends say. (Them being afraid does not constitute danger.) So in reading this book I was fascinated by the wildness of Yellowstone and naturally the extra care one must take to avoid being boiled to death, maimed or poisoned. It was when the deaths and accidents went to the mundane - car accidents, fights, thing that could happen anywhere- that they lost ...more
Death in Yellowstone is one of those book that you are a bit weary of reading. It is a very morbid subject, but that does not stop the book from being great. I love to visit Yellowstone National Park, and this book has helped me to learn to skills for survival in Americas most wild National Park. The writing it great, very engaging, and it is difficult to put the book down. Not only have I learned a lot about the deaths that have happened in Yellowstone, but I have also learned a great deal abou ...more
After having just visited Yellowstone National Park, along with a number of other parks as well, I was interested in the history of a lot of these places. Yellowstone, particularly, I felt would have a rich history since it was the first national park created. Of all possible books, this one just seemed really intriguing. It's certainly not the type of book that you want to read right before bed, that's for sure. It could potentially give you nightmares.

Very interesting stories about the differe
Dec 10, 2014 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yellowstone fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Malachi Stewart
Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Follhardiness in the First National Park. One of my all time favorites. Like everyone else I got my book from Yellowstone. I got it from one of the camp site area stores for around $16.00 (The list price), and I then regretted doing that because I found one later on Amazon for $11.99. I began reading almost as soon as I bought the book. I just opened the book and found a chapter on "Fatal Attractions: Deaths from falls". This immediately cought my eye. This bo ...more
This is a genuinely interesting book. I bought it when in Yellowstone in the Autumn, and read it on my way home- I found it gripping then, and have just been flicking though my favourite chapters again. I must warn- do not read right before bedtime... I was reading through the bear attacks and now have some lovely images to take to bed with me. I am now slightly paranoid that a bear will somehow make its way to London and climb into my 3rd story window at night...

The chapter on thermal incidents
Julie H.
These are well-documented, and explained, instances of people behavingly badly in our nation's first national park, Yellowstone. The bit that I most enjoy, of course, is the underlying fact that we (the nation) established Yellowstone as a park in 1879 precisely because of its wilderness characteristics, yet we seem utterly oblivious to the fact that things that are wild can kill you if you do not take appropriate precautions. If you do take the appropriate measures, the whole point is to enjoy ...more
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Lee Whittlesey’s thirty-five-year studies in the history of the Yellowstone region have made him an expert on Yellowstone’s vast literature and have resulted in numerous publications. He is the author, co-author, or editor of eight books and more than twenty-five journal articles, including: A Yellowstone Album: A Photographic Celebration of the First National Park; Death in Yellowstone; Lost in t ...more
More about Lee H. Whittlesey...
Lost In the Yellowstone: Truman Everts's Thirty Seven Days of Peril Yellowstone Place Names Yellowstone National Park [WY] (Images of America) Ho! for Wonderland: Travelers' Accounts of Yellowstone, 1872-1914 A Yellowstone Album: A Photographic Celebration of the First National Park

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