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Publisher's Summary

The real stories behind the scenery of America’s national parks.

For 12 years, Andrea Lankford lived in the biggest, most impressive national parks in the world, working a job she loved. She chaperoned baby sea turtles on their journey to sea. She pursued bad guys on her galloping patrol horse. She jumped into rescue helicopters bound for the heart of the Grand Canyon. She won arguments with bears. She slept with a few too many rattlesnakes.

Hell yeah, it was the best job in the world! Fortunately, Andrea survived it.

In this graphic and yet surprisingly funny account of her and others’ extraordinary careers, Lankford unveils a world in which park rangers struggle to maintain their idealism in the face of death, disillusionment, and the loss of a comrade killed while holding that thin green line between protecting the park from the people, the people from the park, and the people from each other. Ranger Confidential is the story behind the scenery of the nation’s crown jewels - Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Great Smokies, Denali. In these iconic landscapes, where nature and humanity constantly collide, scenery can be as cruel as it is redemptive.

©2010 Andrea Lankford (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Ranger Confidential

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Depressing from Cover to Cover

‘Ranger Confidential’ is an uncensored look at those who protect America’s National Parks. Well written and poignant, the book is a must read for those who are thinking about working in the national parks, and those starting to learn about the outdoors. However if you’re looking for something that makes you want to grab your back and head out to the trail look somewhere else. Reading the article about this book in ‘Backpacker’ magazine I knew parts were going to be sad and gory but I figured that they would be interspersed with sun antidotes about pranks or fun times in the back country, but I was wrong. While there are some (very few) times where the beauty of the parks shows through, or something goes write, if you were to believe this book the life of a ranger really sucks. The book seems to say that they pretty much go from one search and rescue to another while getting paid like crap, and after a while it makes the author seem to be a bit whiny.

Ms. Motyka's narration is OK. She does a good job with the various characters and male voices, but at times she sounds a bit electronic.

27 people found this helpful

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Better than most reviews

As someone who listened to the last 3 hours of the book while driving to a 3day backpacking trip, I really enjoyed this. The people who think the author is self righteous INO don't understand the outdoors or how hard a law enforcement type job can be. Well worth a listen and the money. Lots of funny times and some very sad ones as well.

10 people found this helpful

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A bit frustrating

The voice actress was phenomenal, capturing the emotional tone of the story in a precise way. However, the story itself was quite frustrating to listen to. There were many times that the author would peel off into several different sub-stories within the main narrative without much payoff. Sometimes it feels like the anecdotal stories contained within were written, tossed around in a hat and picked randomly as there is no real chronological structure. For instance, one of the first chapters mentions helicopters turning into pumpkins at nightfall. Although you can surmise what this may mean, it takes the author a full 3 or so chapters later to mention what she meant by that.
Being an LE ranger, especially at parks as popular and monumental as Yosemite or the Grand Canyon must be a very tough job but the whole time I was listening to this I couldn’t help but remember that the experiences derailed occurred over a span of 12 years over several heavy search and rescue environments.
It was entertaining to say the least and the first half had me wanting more but the farther you go down the rabbit hole, the more tangled it becomes.

8 people found this helpful

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Disjointed but Entertaining

As someone curious about a career as a Ranger in the NPS, I was interested to get an insiders perspective. While the stories were fairly bleak, one can see the truth in them being far more important than a happy ending. However, the disjointed timeline and jumping from one place to another was not preferable. The performance aspect has some to be desired as well.

All in all, this is a decent audio book. If one can look past some of its shortcomings, this book is worth a listen.

7 people found this helpful

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Eye Opening and Well Written

Captivating, moving, and told with lighthearted reprieves, this book opened my eyes to the seldom revealed and harrowing work of my beloved rangers. We owe them a debt of gratitude and more support.

This book is for those who have a strong stomach, and not for children. Lankford pulls no punches in her memoir of the search and rescue operations, crash recoveries, criminal policing, suicides, and other grim aspects of our Rangers' lives. They deserve so much more than they are given.

6 people found this helpful

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Don’t base your decision to read on these reviews

I read through the reviews before listening to this book and I got a ROUGH idea of what I was in for. The general consensus was people either loved it, thought it was “whiny” and depressing, or that the narrator ruined it.

I happen to be one of the people that loved it. Let me break down where people come to the other conclusions.

In regards to the whining or being “depressing”. This woman has been in the park service for A LONG time. You experience things, see things, hear things, and feel things that someone they didn’t do this for a living, wouldn’t. She’s not “whining”, she’s speaking of her experiences and the effect they’ve all had collectively over time. It happens to anyone that has a career.

In terms of being “depressing”. Give me a break. If you think this book is depressing, you’re a snowflake that prefers to remain ignorant to things you don’t see. She is speaking about the stuff behind the scenes. It’s not all beautiful sunsets and landscapes and taking pictures of tourists. It’s sweat, tears, blood, PTSD, loss, sadness, as well as happiness. If you don’t want to hear about the realities of what being a park ranger is, don’t read the book.

In terms of the narrator, I honestly thought she was a great choice for this book. Didn’t sound “robotic” or annoying and it dealt a soft hand to an otherwise sad part of the book.

People also mentioned that she jumped around a lot in the book. She did. She also said she was going to in the beginning. So she put a disclaimer but people still complained about it. SMDH. I was able to keep track regardless.

All in all, I believe I took away from the book just what the author was hoping. I have a much deeper respect for all Park Rangers. You don’t think about the shit they actually deal with. All we think is that they stand around and educate tourists, answer their stupid questions, and try to make sure they don’t kill each other. There’s so much more to it than we know and I’m thankful that I read this book. It’s sad they get paid shit and arent given the respect that they 100% deserve. I salute all Park Rangers and thank you for being there for us, and most importantly, for our National Parks.

I think anyone with a passion for adventure and love for National Parks, should read this book. Part of loving the parks, is loving the people that protect it.

4 people found this helpful

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So much better than expected

As a backcountry woman with some experience as a ranger in a national forest, I didn't think I would much enjoy the stories of front country NPS rangers dealing with cotton candy tourists. But this book goes deeper than that - much deeper. I laughed and cried and learned. I listened to it every minute that I had a chance and wish it was longer.

4 people found this helpful

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Captivating read!

A wonderful memoir of what it was to be female and a ranger in the 80's and 90's in a traditionally male occupation. The author does a wonderful job of helping the listener walk a mile in her shoes!

4 people found this helpful

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Great story teller

Well written and produced, interesting throughout. Whether you're interested in the park service or just like great stories about the outdoors I highly recommend this audiobook

3 people found this helpful

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This book is a great listen

If you could sum up Ranger Confidential in three words, what would they be?

A candid look inside the the lives and profession of the NPS and its Rangers.

What did you like best about this story?

You can tell the author has true first hand knowledge of the subject. Her details really make the story believable, things only someone who had been there and done that could ever know. I've never been an NPS Ranger but I feel like I've had one as a good friend for a long time and listen to their stories from work.

What about Julia Motyka’s performance did you like?

Yes very much, she really brought the story to life. She was a good pick for this book and Ill be looking for her in the future.

Any additional comments?

If you get out in the National Parks and want to get an idea about the other side of the Rangers, THIS IS THE BOOK. The NPS officially may not have been thrilled with everything in the book or the truthful perspective in which it was written but if you want to get an inside look at being a Ranger or working in the parks THIS IS THE BOOK.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 05-08-15

another great wilderness bio.

You have to hear from the ones that live and breathe the wild landscape, as they know the life and times of their jobs.