Synopses & Reviews
“George Black rediscovers the history and lore of one of the planets most magnificent landscapes. Read Empire of Shadows
, and youll never think of our first—in many ways our greatest—national
park in the same way again.”—Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder
Empire of Shadows is the epic story of the conquest of Yellowstone, Wyoming, a landscape uninhabited, inaccessible and shrouded in myth in the aftermath of the Civil War. In a radical reinterpretation of the nineteenth century West, George Black casts Yellowstone's creation as the culmination of three interwoven strands of history - the passion for exploration, the violence of the Indian Wars and the "civilizing" of the frontier - and charts its course through the lives of those who sought to lay bare its mysteries: Lt. Gustavus Cheyney Doane, a gifted but tormented cavalryman known as "the man who invented Wonderland"; the ambitious former vigilante leader Nathaniel Langford; scientist Ferdinand Hayden, who brought photographer William Henry Jackson and painter Thomas Moran to Yellowstone; and Gen. Phil Sheridan, Civil War hero and architect of the Indian Wars, who finally succeeded in having the new National Park placed under the protection of the US Cavalry. George Black¹s Empire of Shadows is a groundbreaking historical account of the origins of America¹s majestic national landmark.
"Black (The Trout Pool Paradox) takes the reader on a momentous and bloody ride through the terrain of the unconquered West. Black warns readers against 'presentism' 'the danger of relying on contemporary values to pass moral judgments on people of a different time.' Divided into five sections and beginning with the familiar expedition of Lewis and Clark, the book spans nearly the entire 19th century. Lewis and Clark were 'uninvited guests in an unknown land, and any tribe they encountered were assumed hostile until proven otherwise,' while the Indians were 'driven by fear or superstition to avoid the upper Yellowstone.' Of course, the dangerous myth surrounding Yellowstone accelerated the explorers' desire to conquer it. As the book continues, the government enters with paleontologists, entomologists, botanists, and mineralogists, among others. Black's clear and concise prose offers some humorous moments; names from a Montana population record include Whiskey Bill, Bummer Dan, Old Phil the Man Eater, and Geo. Hillerman, 'The Great American Pie-Biter.' Though his book is highly readable, Black must remind the reader of all the players using a dramatis personae that is almost as daunting as the wild landscape itself. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Lehrer and Carlson Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“George Black has written a masterful and riveting history of the exploration of Yellowstone. Empire of Shadows will forever change our understanding and conception of this sacred American place.”--David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
"In this work of meticulous scholarship harnessed to fine story-telling, George Black rediscovers the history and lore of one of the planet's most magnificent landscapes. Here is Yellowstone in all its untouristed grandeur—we can almost smell the musk of buffalo herds and the glurp of the hot springs. Read Empire of the Shadows, and you'll never think of our first—in many ways our greatest—national park in the same way again."--Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder
"A well-researched and dynamically written study of the hidden history of greed and idealism, beauty and violence, which led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park."--Richard Slotkin, author of Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in 20th Century America and Professor Emeritus of American Studies, Wesleyan University
“An engrossing chronicle of the vast sweep of western American history that, after six decades, finally closed in on our first national park.”--Robert M. Utley, Former Chief Historian of the National Park Service and author of sixteen books on western American history
About the Author
GEORGE BLACK is the author of The Trout Pool Paradox and Casting a Spell. He is the executive editor of OnEarth magazine, a publication of the Natural Resources Defense Council. He lives in New York.