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Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks    by Andrea Lankford order for
Ranger Confidential
by Andrea Lankford
Order:  USA  Can
Falcon, 2010 (2010)

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'Even paradise has its problems,' writes Andrea Lankford in the introduction of this eye-opening book. 'Criminals go on vacation too in the United States, a park ranger is more likely to be assaulted in the line of duty than is any other federal officer ... A park ranger is twelve times more likely to die on the job than is a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.'

A park ranger for twelve years, Lankford shares some of the stories behind the statistics as she relates a number of the shocking events that have unfolded in the country's most spectacular national parks. These are tales the National Park Service would rather not publicize.

In short, poignant chapters that read more like fiction than non-fiction, the author shows how park rangers struggle to maintain their idealism in the face of death and disillusionment. Besides interpreting nature, leading tours, and other Smokey the Bear types of activities, today's rangers must hold the thin line between protecting the park from people, the people from the park, and the people from each other.

There's a reason why rangers are usually armed and it's not to off a rattlesnake that gets too close to a hiking trail! Lankford admonishes the reader to beware. 'Ranger reality is rated R,' she writes. 'Nature doesn't always play nice.' As you'll discover, that's a major understatement!

You might try to discourage your son or daughter if he or she were interested in a career in the military or law enforcement. After reading this book, you might have the same reservations about the park service!

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