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Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone Kindle Edition
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Black treats all this with good humor and great insight. There is no doubt who the heroes and the villains are - usually they are the same. The blending of militarism and exploration is likewise inescapable. The timelines skips around quite a bit as a result but the point is made clear: science and brutality often go hand in hand. Yellowstone may be the world's first national park but it was also the first that one was needed. I grew up in Bozeman in the 1950s where this history was all around me yet I was blissfully unaware. This book filled in a lot of gaps.
Billed as "The Epic Story of Yellowstone" the emphasis is on "Epic" as Mr. Black paints a broad picture of the relationships between the unique and remote place that became our greatest park and the many groups and characters that passed through the surrounding frontier for decades. These explorers, traders, soldiers, Mountain Men, Mormons and miners were familiar with the fantastical rumors of that remote volcanic cauldron but for years passed them off, logically, as just that, fantastical, until finally even the wildest descriptions were confirmed.
This extremely well researched and documented book relates stories of many of those characters, Langford, Father De Smet, Bridger, Lt. Doane and my favorites, John Colter and Joe Meeks among dozens more. Fortunately, George Black included stories of exploits that cannot be verified but remain some of greatest tales of the west. He carefully characterizes them as the folklore that they are, speculates on their veracity and includes them for our enjoyment. Importantly, the tragic and complicated story of the Native Americans who surrounded Yellowstone received Black's most pointed scrutiny. And his extensive use of primary sources, diaries, letters, military records and journals adds important personal accounts.
Mr. Black describes himself as a foreign-born New Yorker almost apologizing for writing of this truly American treasure. But his words convey a sincere enthusiasm for Yellowstone Park he likely acquired as an adult and expresses with the freshness and wonder of that nine-year old American kid watching Old Faithful the first time.
Almost seventy pages of Notes and a robust bibliography make "Empire of Shadows" a valuable scholarly work as well as a great read. Highly recommended.
Depth is given to the genocide of Native people. The mismanagement of military leadership, and exploitation of our national treasure. One will chuckle about Bridger's exaggeration of Yellowstone, where emerald's hang from trees! Black's writing reminds me of Stephen E. Ambrose, who is the master of historical storytelling. The last section of the book are footnotes of historical research.