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Death in Yellowstone

Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
Narrated by: Stephen R. Thorne
Length: 13 hrs and 26 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (126 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The chilling tome that launched an entire genre of books about the often gruesome, but always tragic ways people have died in our national parks, this updated edition of the classic includes calamities in Yellowstone from the past 16 years, including the infamous grizzly bear attacks in the summer of 2011, as well as a fatal hot springs accident in 2000. In these accounts, written with sensitivity as cautionary tales about what to do and what not to do in one of our wildest national parks, Lee H. Whittlesey recounts deaths ranging from tragedy to folly - from being caught in a freak avalanche to the goring of a photographer who just got a little too close to a bison. Armchair travelers and park visitors alike will be fascinated by this important book detailing the dangers awaiting in our first national park.

©2014 Roberts Rinehart Publishers (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The most fascinating book ever written about Yellowstone Park and its environs." ( Journal Of The West)

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Pamela
  • Bigfork, Montana
  • 04-26-17

Heading to Yellowstone?

The first half of this book is an inventory of man losing the battle against nature. Wild animals, boiling mud pots, roaring rivers, precipitous drops, exposure, avalanches and even falling trees take their bites out of humanity. Many of these deaths are due to people not taking the wilderness seriously, as the author is quick to point out. Put your infant on the back of a bison or under the nose of a bear for a cute photo? Climb over railings for a better view? Head out hiking drunk and in the dark without any gear? Do you really think the warnings do not apply to you? I well remember stories of my sister in the family station wagon playing patty-cake with a Yellowstone bear through a closed window while our mother looked on in horror and I slept peacefully in the family tent only a few yards away. We were lucky none of us are included in this book.

That first half should be required reading for anyone entering the park. Sobering, yes, but after hearing and seeing what foolish activity people try, it might keep us all safer. Sadly, many of the deaths are of park employees who should, in many case, known better. Not all of the death are due to careless or reckless behavior - sometimes nature is capricious and the innocent pay the ultimate price. Those tales are especially tragic.

The second half is less of man vs nature and more of man on his own. Wagon and horse accidents, murders, suicides, and industrial accidents have all taken a toll. The majority of these, especially the accidents, took place during the early, wild-west, days of the park. This section was necessary for the author's stated goal of covering all of the deaths in Yellowstone but it is more in line with what you would face in any western territory in the early 20th century and therefore not as engaging. The author, thankfully, has intentionally excluded automobile, snow mobile and similar vehicular accidents.

The narrator was fine, except that he consistently mispronounces Grand Tetons - it is TEE-tonz not TEET-enz. That drove me crazy - and I assume it did the author as well.

I hate to say it was an entertaining listen, because that sounds a bit morbid. But it was very interesting and as I am headed back into the park in a week, I hope I act with more caution that I might have otherwise.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating book

Any additional comments?

Narration was good, easy to listen to and get absorbed into the stories. Some chapters were more interesting than others, but that's okay - different strokes for different folks. It's definitely a book that I'll recommend to my friends and acquaintances who are interested in this topic. I thought the entire book would be about dumb tourists and was pleasantly surprised to hear about accidents, the whims of mother nature, dumb park employees, and criminal shenanigans in or near the park. It turned out to be more of a diverse book than I originally thought. We're still hearing stories in the news about tourists who die from falling into hot springs or who provoke bison, so I imagine there will be plenty of fodder for the next edition. I enjoyed how the chapters ended by the author reminding us of key takeaways such as 'don't climb over safety barriers in search of the perfect selfie - if you die and your family sues, don't expect to win' (I'm paraphrasing that, but it is one of the key messages of the book - and it's sad that the message continues to be relevant).

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Like listening to a newspaper

I expected a telling of the creative and stupid ways people choose to remove themselves from the gene pool. There were a few-- like the folks who put their child on the back of a (wild) bear in order to take a picture. But most of it was "?? ?? died on ??/??/?? when we went through the ice." I gave it two stars because my wife listened to it.

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Death in Yellowstone

I have been to Yellowstone multiple times. Enjoyed the back story. Great book must listen story.

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Great book!

A MUST read for everyone BEFORE they visit a National Park.
Maybe it should be a requirement......lol

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loved it

Finished in 2 days, well written and well read. Hope to see a new edition soon with more newer incidents.

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  • Admiralu
  • Camarillo, California United States
  • 01-28-19

Excellent Chronicle of Deaths in the Park


This book was an updated version of a previous edition. I have not read the previous version, so I will focus on this one. Death in Yellowstone is a superb book covering deaths in the National Park. Both nature and man are responsible. Regarding nature, human error causes the majority of deaths in the park with parkgoers overestimating their abilities and greatly underestimating the dangers of the wild. Despite constant warnings from park rangers, many ignore their wise countenance. Never hike alone, carry bear spray, stay out of certain areas, take friends with you are just a few safety tips that had many listened, they would be alive today. Hot springs are not for soaking, the Yellowstone river is too dangerous to swim and often boat on. Anyone planning on visiting should read this book to take note of the stories of those who lost their lives and learn from them. I read this book using Immersion Reading, while listening to the audiobook. A fascinating and excellent read\listen, expertly narrated.

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boring

Wow, first book i could not finish, and i have listened to hundreds. just a boring litany of event after event. awful.

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Boring

This book is very dry almost mind numbing. And I thought it was named Death in Yellowstone, not death in just outside of Yellowstone. You don’t include deaths by illness or auto accidents. But do include those that didn’t occur in the park. I’m not talking about those that happened as a result from an incident that did occur in the park. I’m talking about all those that were prefaced with “this didn’t happen in the park but”. Very disappointed in this book.