"How it falls away like breath."

The authors claim this book is a miracle because they visited all the parks just before the national parks were shut down due to Covid-19. However, the book is miraculous for numerous other reasons, as well. The photographs are incredible, and the scope of the work is an endeavor beyond measure for most. Morton and Birkelbach covered the miles literally and figuratively. Their book is organized chronologically by the year each national park was established. That in itself is a history lesson. For instance, readers discover that in 1872 Yellowstone became the first national park. It is also interesting to learn that all of the designated parks were west of the Mississippi until the establishment of Acadia National Park in Maine, almost fifty years after the first park was declared.

Each chapter contains fantastic photography but also art in the form of vivid descriptions and poetry. Take, for example, what is said about Wind Caves National Park: "...tunnel upon tunnel of mesmerizing cave formations, at least 143 miles of passageways… Wind Cave is a mesmerizing gem of a national park, undeniably holy ground. Enter with reverence. Exit with gratitude." This project is a guidebook, photo essay, and book of poems all in one. The guidebook part gives useful tips on when to visit and safety rules of the road: "If you do decide to hike... let someone know where... and your expected return.... The mosquitos, the ice, the rivers, the wind are unforgiving," writes Birkelbach about Wrangell-St. Elias Park in Alaska. After reading this visually stunning and incredibly inspiring book, readers won't be asking themselves which park to visit but where to go first.

A 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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