Lee Whittlesey - Yellowstone Museum review

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Lee Whittlesey - Yellowstone Museum review

Postby TomTuriano » Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:06 pm

I received this in an email from Lee Whittlesey on January 16, 2004:

Thomas---

We found the copy of the book you sent in one of our mail stacks, and many thanks for autographing it to the Yellowstone Library and staff. I'll add it to the library as soon as I've finished looking it over. It is QUITE the work at 512 pages, and I must say I am impressed. You've persevered! It is apparent that you were NOT about to settle for anything
less, and the result is, I assure you, well worth our wait and your certainty of purpose.

I've looked the book over for several hours cursorily enough, I think, to make some comments. You've combined good writing with not only a magnificent amount of scope and detail but also with the requisite minutiae in the documentation and bibliographical sections. Many authors give up in these last two areas, and their books fail, in my estimation, because of it. Yours looks like it will not fail. Instead, it will withstand the test of time, I believe, as a great tome. Thanks so much for not taking the easier, shorter way out, as so many authors have and would have.

The notes of any book are what give it credibility and make it stand in history, in my estimation, rather than letting it fall into the obscurity and ignominy of so many works of fiction. I was, of course, embarrassed yet a bit proud to see my own name in so many of your notes. I thank you especially for placing one of my comments next to that of Robert Utley (long one of my heroes!), who (I was relieved to see) expressed the same opinion on a fur-trapping subject as I had.

You did a great job with acknowledgements. We who write books are always in debt to our many helpers, and I've found over and over that it always helps to say thank you.

I think your discussion of the Hague surveys is now the best one I know of, so the book could sit on my shelf for that reason alone. But of course that will only be ONE reason I'll keep it. You've done the legwork of looking at the writings of the Hague survey, and you've done it well.

I loved your discussions of certain peaks (such as Yount's Peak and Mount Cowen), some facets about which I'd long wondered. You really went all out to ferret out as much of the climbing history as possible, and, as you well know, that is not easy to do. It is apparent that you've interviewed many folks who needed to be interviewed and sought out their
photographs and stories. Those juxtapose nicely with the very detailed EARLY history of each peak---its naming, mapping, and climbers.

I love the book's layout, with its easy-to-follow maps, photos, and diagrams and yet detailed text. I look forward to seeing your subsequent additions to this book. I'm sure you are working to fill in the "holes" in the various ranges with even more "select" peaks. May you not be taken from us in some unfortunate mountaineering accident before you've finished (or at least added to) this important work. So, in the words of the NYPD sergeant in the television show of the same name, "Let's be careful out there!"

Congratulations on a remarkable achievement.

Lee H. Whittlesey
Park Historian, National Park Service
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 82190
(307) 344-2261

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