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National Parks: The American Experience
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National Parks: The American Experience

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  88 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
This third edition includes a new essay on recent environmental issues and concerns, especially as they center on Yellowstone National Park.
Paperback, Third Edition, 375 pages
Published March 1st 1997 by University of Nebraska Press (first published March 1st 1979)
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Zac Chase
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
I've seen the Ken Burns PBS series about the National Parks about which Runte was an advisor. The intersections of the two tellings of this story are evident throughout the book. Still, Runte's work varies enough from the Burns telling to warrant anyone interested in the history of the National Parks picking up a copy and following the story of how the idea of the parks began and the centuries-long tumult surrounding the consideration and refinement of the understanding of what they should be.

Feb 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a pretty good read. I was most interested to learn how the commercialization of Niagara Falls was a source of shame for many Americans, and something that others ridiculed us for, and was frequently held up as a glaring example of what we should NOT allow to happen to places like Yellowstone and Yosemite. Not being a terribly competitive person myself, I also found it fascinating and kind of silly the way America's natural wonders were put forward as a challenge to the grandeur and magn ...more
Brenden Gallagher
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
With this book, Runte has produced a straightforward telling of the history of America's national parks by outlining the various philosophical approaches conservationists have taken towards the parks and the challenges they have faced in developing them.

Though the book doesn't really necessarily bring the various personalities and controversies surrounding the parks to life, this is a great book if you want to have a better understanding of the various principles behind the national parks.

An interesting perspective on the intersection of the conservation movement with the history of the National Park system. This book dives into various groups' interests in the purpose of creating and maintaining National Parks, monuments, and forests, and how to balance those interests with the political swings of the time as well as the public's ability to use and enjoy these spaces (and how those visits affect the Parks and their ecosystems). This intersection is complicated and fascinating, a ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An interesting read. The author writes; "The United States could not afford to wait another 100 years to preserve the land for what it was instead of what it was not." As we go into the Centennial of the National Park service next year, I picked up this book written in 1979. Reading it, it was interesting to see that not much has changed; the national parks still face the dangers of development, outside interests wishing to reduce their size or change their management, and too many cars. If the ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best book I have read on the History of American National Parks - specifically in the US. Helps make you think about the issues National Parks bring up - preservation versus conservation, wildlife conservation, tourism, and the many ideas about what the purpose of the parks should be as well as the key figures responsible for the parks
If you are looking for an introduction to US national park history this is a very useful book. It gives a broad overview of formative people and moments in the history of American national parks. If you are well-versed you won't find much new information in this book.
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it
This book, along with Sellars, opens your eyes to the reality of our National Parks System, one founded for tourism, not for conservation of biodiversity.
Emily Graham
Still one of the best and most critically written histories of the philosophies behind the national park system in the US
AJ Shields
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful history on a beautiful idea. Its a perfect short read to undertake before visiting our National Parks. It is also a good compliment to Ken Burn's series on PBS.
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Alfred Runte writes for a national following on the meaning and management of protected landscapes. Born and raised in Binghamton, New York, in the upper Susquehanna River Valley, he became the youngest board member of the Susquehanna Conservation Council. While fighting with others to preserve the river, he earned his B.A. from Harpur College of the State University of New York at Binghamton (no ...more
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