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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  89 reviews
"A work of extraordinary imagination and sympathy, a journey from slavery to the mountaintop, perfectly realized." --Ken Burns, American filmmaker

Born on Emancipation Day, 1863, to a sharecropping family of black and Indian blood, Elijah Yancy never lived as a slave--but his self-image as a free person is at war with his surroundings: Spartanburg, South Carolina, in the Recons
ebook, 289 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Counterpoint LLC (first published 2009)
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Sara You asked this question some time ago, but perhaps it will help others. This book would provide an excellent starting point for discussing freedom…moreYou asked this question some time ago, but perhaps it will help others. This book would provide an excellent starting point for discussing freedom among different races and how slavery didn't really end with the Emancipation Proclamation. In the first chapter, Elijah says "Before emancipation we were slaves, and after we were sharecroppers. If there's someone reading this who knows the difference between a slave and a sharecropper, please send a message to the colored folks in Spartanburg, cause I'm sure they'd be interested." It could also prompt discussions about personal/government property rights—both related to Native Americans and the establishment of national parks. A few cautions for a middle- to high-school audience: the word "n—" is used liberally and there are some overt sexual references. Despite war being the backdrop for most of the book, the book was not particularly violent (there are one or two more intense scenes, but no worse than that audience would see in video games). (less)

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Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've watched the Ken Burns documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea then you know that in the early days of Yosemite the only defense against sheep herders, loggers, and poachers was the Federal army which assigned a regiment of Buffalo Soldiers to patrol the park. Gloryland is a historical novel that follows the life of one of these soldiers from his childhood as the son of South Carolina sharecropper to his soul-saving assignment in Yosemite. Elijah Yancy is an allegorical char ...more
Sharyn L.
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the pleasure of meeting Shelton Johnson at an REI where was doing a presentation about Yosemite. He was "in character" as Elijah Yancy. A truly moving and wonderful evening. I couldn't wait to read his upcoming book, Gloryland. So much history, so much love of nature. While I'm not a huge fan of reading poetry, it works in this book and adds depth to the story. I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Yosemite, the Buffalo soldiers, national parks, nature, and a good story. B ...more
Elaine Goddard
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book to consume. It is a book to savor. The first person narrative is about the struggle and redemption of a black man born on emancipation day in South Carolina. He leaves his home in the post civil war south, joins the army and eventually finds his personal salvation as a guard in Yosemite National Park. The book is like a beautiful poem, like a river of thought, taking you through rough rapids, over rocks and boulders and finally finding a peaceful place to land. I give it 5 sta ...more
Cheree Moore
Sep 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gloryland by Shelton Johnson is the story of Elijah Yancy who is born on Emancipation Day in 1863. He is the son of sharecroppers who live in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Unfortunately they quickly learn that in the South emancipation did not mean equality.

Elijah's background is interesting in that he is both black and of Indian descent. As a teenager he witnesses a lynching and soon after he must leave the South in order to be spared his own life. He walks until he reaches Nebraska
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really think Shelton Johnson did a great job describing the "feel" of Yosemite and the Sierras. His prose is vivid and lyrical:

"It was a high meadow so close to the sky that the blue of heaven began to stain the plants below. You could see it in the high grass and flowers with the blue of the sky in their petals. Sky was so close there, maybe it was leaching its color, so after a rain the plant just pulls it from the air and gets drunk on it, waving back and forth in the breeze, giddy with in
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Each chapter in this book reads almost like poetry. This is not a gripping book, certainly not in terms of plot, but reading it chapter by chapter left me with a feeling of insight into the daunting world of being black, male, and strong-minded at the end of the 19th century in the newly "free" south. The book is supposedly about the experiences of one of the first African-American park rangers (the first ones were US Calvary soldiers) in Yosemite, but only the last few chapters touch on the nar ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found "Gloryland" a joy to read.

Shelton Johnson's writing's provides narration and poetry about Elijah Yancy and his journey from his life in South Carolina to becoming a Buffalo Soldier.

Shelton Johnson's poetic description of the astonishing beauty of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks as seen throughout the eyes of Elijah Yancy will warm your heart while dreaming of such beauty.

A very good read!
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story of a black man in the South who knows he must leave or die at the hands of those believe he is less than a man.
Elijah Yancey leaves home and after four years of wandering, joins the US Army to protect our first National Park- Yosemite. Elijah is transformed by the stark, raw beauty of this land.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A man's life is more than his memories. It is the history of what he has learned, where he has been and what he has done. This tale of a young black man growing up in Spartanburg, South Carolina during the Reconstructionist period draws out the racial tensions of the times, steeped with injustice and and inequalities. And if you are a proud black man this not not the place to be.

Elijah Yancy's life is framed by the love and caring of his parents and Grandmother. So at 18 his family k
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gloryland is the story of Elijah Yancy, the son of slaves, who was born on Emancipation Day in 1863 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. But while slavery was ended (sort of), African-Americans are not free in the Reconstructed South. As sharecroppers, they don’t own the land they work on. They can’t vote. And the risk of violence and death is always present. As Elijah approaches manhood, his family tells him that he has to leave, or risk being killed for being outspoken and demanding dignity.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Got this as a gift from my brother, who retired from the Park Service. The author is a ranger at Yosemite NP, and his 2009 novel follows an African American born in 1863, from his childhood in South Carolina in the aftermath of the Civil War to as a young man walking to Nebraska. There, he decides to join the US Cavalry, becoming a "buffalo soldier" engaged with subduing Native Americans in the West and quelling rebellion in the Philippines after the Spanish American War, all the while questioni ...more
I rarely give a book 5 stars, but I came close on this one. The only thing which kept me from doing so is that I would have liked a little more time spent in Yosemite. But the writing was powerful and moving. My wife and I had just visited the Mariposa Grove at Yosemite National Park a couple of days before I finished the novel, and I interrupted my wife's reading to get her to read his description of being among the sequoia trees. It was exactly the feeling we had being amongst the big trees. B ...more
Becky Durstenfeld
I had mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and interesting to hear the perspective of a black man with Indian heritage who served in the army. I liked the main character telling his story. I liked that the chapters were short. I alternated between enjoying the book and being a bit bored with it. There was so much description of the characters feelings and thoughts, some which was hard to follow. Some of what he described was heart wrenching, but most of the book didn't actually hav ...more
JoAnn Branch
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel well-worth reading!

I had never read anything by this author, but according to the review of it, it sounded like a book I would enjoy. And it didn't disappoint. I was able to get into the author's feelings and understand what was going on at the time, and he told his story well and with much feeling. He sounds like someone I would have liked to know, and his family did a great job in raising him to be a solid, Christian man who didn,t need to apologize to anyone and who w a s humble and
Forrest Rosser
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable, eloquent tale of a buffalo soldier's experiences growing up in Georgia during the post-Civil War Reconstruction period, and then moving on to his experiences as a soldier for the US Army in the vastness of the western USA at the turn of the century. Incredibly lyrical descriptions of his Yosemite experiences are worth the read. Mr. Johnson reportedly works as a ranger in Yosemite National Park.
Valerie Gilliam
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. I originally heard about it through a Sierra Club newsletter and I was intrigued by the historical fact that buffalo soldiers defended National Parks. The writing of this book is superb and the story is rich. I gave 4 stars because I felt like Shelton Johnson tried several times in the book to convey his deep love of nature and of Yosemite but I'm not sure he captured the intensity of it fully in the book.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gloriously written, this is a love poem to Yosemite. Lyrically gorgeous, Shelton Johnson creates wonder through his words. Using descriptions ripe with metaphor, Johnson made me want to revisit Yosemite in order to sleep beneath the endless stars. "Something bout the place seeps into you like the cold of a creek or the sun's heat soaking into granite. It gets to you and into you." It is also an honest and brutal depiction of racial prejudice after the Civil War.
David Rozelle
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible story of a journey through pain to find Yosemite

Like I titled this,Incredible. A painful story of a black person i our supposedly civil country and his escape through the strength of his faith and family background. He portrays the pain he experienced like no other book (or movie or any other m3dia) I've read. His portrayal of Yosemite, the Sierra Nevadas and the beauty contained there is unmatched. A great book.
Ben Weis
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic (although told from a fictional point of view) look at some of our nation’s first National Park rangers: the Buffalo Soldiers. A story almost completely forgotten until the author, a park ranger himself, began retelling it to anyone who would listen. I wish I would have had a copy for him to sign when we met him in Yosemite a few weeks ago. Poetic, reflective, and challenging
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book started as historical fiction of the first order; the chapter where the narrator's father goes to town to vote should be anthologized everywhere, if you ask me. But then it becomes something else, and I'm left in even deeper awe.

I didn't know what to expect when started this, so I won't give any more away. Recommended!
Mara Grimes
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my top 10 favorite books easily. So beautifully written. The stories and language will remain with me a long time. His references to hands, water, quiet, and beauty went straight to my heart. I think a trip to Yosemite is in my future. Such a lovely and meaningful journey.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great descriptive narrative showing attitudes and treatment of African Americans in the early 1900's. The author exposes similarities in treatment of Native Americans and African Americans during this period. Beautiful descriptive passages of Yosemite National Park!.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read in a long time!! Johnson takes one on a journey into the past and brings you to the timeless place we call Yosemite National Park. Unforgettable characters, and beautiful writing!!!
Bud Russell
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite enjoyable. Several very moving chapters, namely: lighting up the woods, voting, and right there at heaven's gate. A master of description, with an amazing use of similes and metaphors. The journey from slavery to the mountaintop was beautifully imagined.
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would be a good pick for Black History month.
Park Ranger SJ writes novel about a buffalo soldier born in 1863. South Carolina to Yosemite.
Author's poetic side comes out; sometimes book is a little too flowery.
But a good read.

Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Very lyrical writing about nature. Probably would have been more affecting if I had read this instead of listening to it. Made me really want to visit Yosemite National Park. Had no idea that soldiers were used in the early 1900's to monitor this park.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An all-time fave! Poetry.
Lindsey Sullivan
One of the most beautifully written books that I've ever read. It is positively lyrical.
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone who has ever talked to God and seen the light in Yosemite, or who wants to. Wonderful.
Tyler Cowart
This book had a lot of depth and offered several moments of reflection. I'm not the biggest fan of the writing style though.
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