Requiem for America’s Best Idea: National Parks in the Era of Climate Change

High Road. Mar. 2022. 296p. ISBN 9780826363435. $34.95. TRAV
In this book, former Yellowstone ranger Yochim (Protecting Yellowstone: Science and the Politics of National Park Management; Yellowstone and the Snowmobile: Locking Horns over National Park Use) broadly addresses the United States’ National Park system, specifically the dire impact of climate change within it. His nature writing is informed by a singular and specialized career, and he writes thoughtfully and with incredible nuance regarding the state of the parks throughout their history. Some of this book’s chapters relate stories previously untold, and there is an additional parallel narrative that runs throughout: early on Yochim reveals, with much bravery and candor, his own diminishing physicality and the progression of his recently diagnosed ALS (Lou Gehrig’s) disease. So while the park tales set in current times elicit sympathy in their no-nonsense address of the disease progression, the sense that author and reader alike take some solace in the fresh telling of past tales is palpable. Readers will be glad to read of him in his prime, while he relishes the opportunity to illuminate his beloved parks.
VERDICT Yochim died in 2020, and the warmth and humanity of his writing are his legacy. This book highlights the beauty of the natural world and its status as an invaluable commodity that all humans share. Recommended for all nature enthusiasts.
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