The National Parks and Shelton Johnson

September 28, 2009

PBS began airing the first of six segments of Ken Burns’ The National Parks last night. Burns has made a name for himself by creating wonderful documentaries of American times and pastimes– The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, and many others. All of his films have an unarguable quality and a passion for their subjects. All are recommended viewing. We believe The National Parks will be no different and urge you to watch the continuing segments. The Essex Library has the companion book to the film–The National Parks: America’s Best Idea written by Dayton Duncan and it is a grand book, full of extraordinary photos.

If you did watch last night’s show, you may have been struck by one of the interviewees, a National Park Ranger named Shelton Johnson who spoke eloquently about the natural beauty in the Parks. He stood out for his passion for Yosemite and what a visit to the National Parks has to offer every American. We found his portions to be remarkable. It is no surprise then, after hearing him speak, to find out that Shelton Johnson has a graduate degree in poetry. We are avid to hear more from him to expand our admiration and learn from his capacity to communicate. We will get such a chance because Johnson has just published a novel–Gloryland about the experience of a buffalo soldier, one of the African-American cavalrymen who patrolled parts of the West around the turn of the century. Highly recommended reading.