Eric Blehm is the award-winning author of the New York Times bestsellers Fearless and The Only Thing Worth Dying For. His first book, The Last Season, was the winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and was named by Outside magazine as one of the "greatest adventure biographies ever written." He has dedicated his life to telling the stories of those who serve.
In this tribute to backcountry National Park Service rangers (and a poignant and evocative homage to one in particular), Blehm (Agents of Change: The Story of DC Shoes and Its Athletes) instantly captures readers. Randy Morgenson served as a backcountry ranger in the Sierra Nevada Mountains for 28 seasons until he mysteriously disappeared. His remains were only found five years later. Did Morgenson purposefully walk away, or did he meet with a tragic accident? Blehm uses Morgenson's journals to retrace Morgenson's steps and to illustrate the lives of backcountry rangers, who protect, serve, save, and recover with little recognition. Readers will experience the daily hopes of rescue and the eventual letdown when the search efforts must be called off. While the book is a tribute to one man, the descriptions of backcountry rangers' lives will fascinate many. Blehm's impossible-to-put-down account belongs in all California regional collections and all public libraries and is a worthy addition to academic libraries with environmental collections as well. Readers who enjoyed Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild may also appreciate. (Black-and-white photo insert not seen.)-Nancy Moeckel, Miami Univ. Libs., Oxford, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Blehm (Agents of Change) offers a thorough if cumbersome account of the life of Randy Morgenson, a National Park Service ranger in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains whose zeal gave way to disillusionment before he disappeared on duty in 1996, after 28 summers on the job (although his body was found, how he died remains a mystery). The book begins with the day Morgenson left his camp for a three-day patrol and then failed to make scheduled radio contact. From there, the narrative weaves the events of the ensuing search with descriptions of ranger life, tales of past incidents in the area and Morgenson's increasingly fraught personal history. Blehm's exhaustive research is impressive, although the author struggles to find the proper balance of background information and narrative pace, spending, for instance, an entire page on a peripheral reference to the California Conservation Corps when a sentence or two would have sufficed. He does, however, succeed in creating an empathetic portrayal of Morgenson and a revealing look at the taxing, underappreciated calling to which he dedicated himself. Readers are left with an intimate sense of an intelligent if flawed man whose love of the mountains ended up costing him his marriage, his ambitions and his life. 16-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. (Apr. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"A legendary tale of wilderness devotion."--Aron Ralston, author of
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
"A first-rate detective story but an even better love story--an account of the love for wild places."--Bill McKibben, author The End of Nature
"A gripping account. . . . I couldn't put it down."--Jordan Fisher Smith, author of Nature Noir