Anyone who has craned their neck to spy the top of a redwood in Muir Woods, heard the ghostly whispers of long-gone residents among the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, or climbed the 354 stairs to gaze out from the Statue of Liberty’s crown would agree that our national park system inspires pride and wonder. But 100 years ago, creating a bureau to administer America’s vast and diverse park system called for great debate and persuasion. The story of the National Park Service (NPS) is the story of the people who fought to protect the places that help define our national identity, those places we all now hold dear—from the hazy blue mist that hangs over the Great Smoky Mountains to the spouting geysers of Yellowstone to the steamy, sinuous waterways of the Everglades. The NPS founders were the architects of our family vacations and the inventors of icons with worldwide appeal. They battled greed and ignorance disguised as “progress,” and their successors nurtured and shaped the NPS through a flu pandemic, the Great Depression, two world wars, and beyond.
Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears by award-winning journalist Heather Hansen tells the engaging, accessible tale of the history and characters of the NPS. The result of extensive research, dozens of interviews, and countless visits to parks across the country, this highly readable history connects the dots between past and present, and highlights the importance of citizens’ support for the future of the parks. Offering something for everyone, our incredible natural, cultural, and historic resources, and the hardworking NPS, need us as much as we need them.