Friday, September 25, 2009

PBS Series and Book on National Parks

I'm so excited to watch the PBS series on America's National Parks, which begins Sunday night on OPB -- especially having just finished reading Timothy Egan's terrific book (The Big Burn) about America's largest-ever forest fire, and the establishment of the National Forest Service.

The National Parks: America's Best Idea, an Illustrated History, by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns, is the official compaion volume to the twelve-hour PBS series, and it is spectacular! At $50 it isn't cheap, but it is almost 400 pages of incredible history and illustration -- both historical photos and contemporary, some in lucious two-page spreads. This book will make a wonderful keepsake that can be returned to over and over again. What a great gift!

The authors recount the adventures, mythmaking, and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system, and the enduring ideals that fostered its growth. And they introduce us to a diverse cast of compelling characters -- both unsung heroes and famous figures such as John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ansel Adams -- who have been transformed by these special places and committed themselves to saving them from destruction so the rest of us could be transformed as well.

The world's first national park was Yellowstone, established in 1872; the US system now encompasses nearly four hundred sites and 84 million acres -- including Crater Lake in Oregon, established in 1902.

Dayton Duncan, writer and producer of The National Parks, is an award-winning author and documentary filmmaker. He is the author of nine other books and has collaborated on all of Ken Burn's films for twenty years as a writer, producer, and consultant. Ken Burns, director and producer of The National Parks, has won numerous prizes for his work, including the Emmy and Peabody Awards and two Academy Award nominations. His previous films incluce The War, Jazz, Baseball, and The Civil War, which was the highest-rated series in the history of American public television.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is both fascinating and gorgeous. Come check it out for youself -- and be sure to catch the first segment of the series Sunday night!

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