Stuff to Read

One of the best sources of factual information for the West is the High Country News. Check it out if you get an opportunity.

If you need to know more about Native American issues and concerns, try Indian Country Today.

Ranger Confidential by Andrea Lankford is an amazing tale of the service and sacrifice of park rangers. After thirty years of law enforcement, I thought that rangers wouldn’t have it too different from my experiences. But for all the similarities, this book gave me my first real perspective of Rangering; the work, the people, the bureaucracy. And after reading it, Ranger Birdie McLaren was born.

The Last Season by Eric Blehm tells the story of ranger, missing and lost and the search for him that spanned decades. The efforts taken by the National Park Service, his friends and co-workers, and those that never gave up. In many ways, this book is about mindset and the determination to find those lost in the woods.

Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Charles R. “Butch” Farabee, Jr. is an easy read chronicling in vignette form, the stories of those whose lives were lost in the vastness of Yosemite.

Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers is an easy read chronicling in vignette form, the stories of those whose lives were lost in the vastness of the Grand Canyon.

National Park Circus by Gerry Reynolds reads more like a journal than an exposure of the bureaucratic nonsense that goes on behind the scenes at the National Park Service. While I have no doubt that Mr. Reynolds was an excellent ranger, I would not have wanted to be his supervisor. But the stories that he has to tell would actually fill a lot more books than this one, if he put his mind to it.

A Park Ranger’s Life by Bruce W. Bytnar gives a real day-in-the-life feel to reading about how a park ranger works. His stories are told in a comfortable, beginning, middle, and end style that provides the reader with a complete picture of the experience.

Nature Noir by Jordan Fisher Smith gives a different perspective on the ranger experience. Mr. Smith was a California State Park Ranger working contract for the US Bureau of Reclamation in an area that was someday supposed to a massive, man-made lake, but instead became the Auburn State Recreation Area. His experiences are uniquely Californian and deal with a population quite different than those at the National Parks we normally think about.

Shattered Air by Rob Madgic is about a horrifying and preventable disaster at Yosemite, that I remember vividly reading about in the San Jose Mercury News when it happened. The harrowing rescue that followed, initially and predominantly by other hikers and visitors of the park, until the Park Service could respond and develop an appropriate rescue is compelling and heart-breaking. It wasn’t until I actually read this book that I learned that some of those traumatized by the disaster were actually high school classmates of my wife.

If you enjoyed “Tears for Lucifer,” please try reading Jack Warner’s debut novel Shikar (or later titled Maneater), the novel that really inspired “Tears for Lucifer,” but my story is but a poor homage to the much better story of a tiger on the loose in rural Georgia. Shikar will keep you up all night, reading under the covers with a flashlight.