The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Version: Unabridged
Author: Dayton Duncan , Ken Burns
Narrator: Dayton Duncan , Ken Burns
Genres: History, North America, Science & Technology, Animals & Nature
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published In: September 2009
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours, 30 minutes
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The companion volume to the twelve-hour PBS series from the acclaimed filmmaker behind "The Civil War, Baseball, " and "The War"
America's national parks spring from an idea as radical as the Declaration of Independence: that the nation's most magnificent and sacred places should be preserved, not for royalty or the rich, but for everyone. In this evocative and lavishly illustrated narrative, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan delve into the history of the park idea, from the first sighting by white men in 1851 of the valley that would become Yosemite and the creation of the world's first national park at Yellowstone in 1872, through the most recentadditions to a system that now encompasses nearly four hundred sites and 84 million acres.
The authors recount the adventures, mythmaking, and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system, and the enduringideals that fostered its growth. They capture the importance and splendors of the individual parks: from Haleakala in Hawaii to Acadia in Maine, from Denali in Alaska to the Everglades in Florida, from Glacier in Montana to Big Bend in Texas. 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 that the rest of us could be transformed as well."
The National Parks" is a glorious celebration of an essential expression of American democracy.

"From the Hardcover edition."

Reviews (1)

National Parks

Written by Steve Y. on June 8th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Overall this book was very informative and interesting especially if you have visited many of the National Parks. It was the story of our struggle to protect us from ourselves. That is, to not destroy everything in the interest of self but to preserve those things that are more valuable than the here and now. The main narrator was somewhat over the top pronouncing every single word as if each were a pearl of wisdom from the Mouth of God making it come off a bit too political sounding, dramatic, and wordy. However if Dayton Duncan had done all the narration, as he did so well at the end, it would have been much better.

Author Details

Author Details

Duncan, Dayton

Stanley Vestal's other books include "The Old Santa Fe Trail," also available as a Bison Book. Dayton Duncan, author of "Miles from Nowhere: In Search of the American Frontier," is a scriptwriter for the filmmaker Ken Burns.

Burns, Ken

"After earning his BA at Hampshire College, Brooklyn-born Ken Burns pursued a career as a documentary filmmaker. At age 22, he formed Florentine Films in his home base of Walpole, New Hampshire. Dissatisfied with dry, scholarly historical documentaries, Burns wanted his films to ""live,"" and to that end adopted the technique of cutting rapidly from one still picture to another in a fluid, linear fashion. He then pepped up the visuals with ""first hand"" narration gleaned from contemporary writings and recited by top stage and screen actors. Burns' first successful venture was the award-winning documentary The Brooklyn Bridge, which ran on public television in 1981. While he was Oscar-nominated for his 1985 theatrical release The Statue of Liberty, Burns' work has enjoyed its widest exposure on television: such films as Huey Long (1985), Thomas Hart Benton (1986) and Empire of the Air (1991) (a bouquet to the pioneers of commercial radio) have become staples of local PBS stations' seasonal fund drives. In 1990, Burns completed what many consider his ""chef d'oeuvre"": the eleven-hour The Civil War, which earned an Emmy (among several other honors) and became the highest-rated miniseries in the history of public television. Civil War was the apotheosis of Burns' master mixture of still photos, freshly shot film footage, period music, evocative ""celebrity"" narration and authentic sound effects. In 1994, Ken Burns released his long-awaited Baseball, an 18-hour saga which, like The Civil War, was telecast at the same time as the publication of a companion coffee-table book. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide"