Useful Books

Please note: The following links may contain copyrighted material. Permission has been granted to the National Park Service to post this information online, but the copyrights are still reserved by the owner of the original books. While NPS-produced publications are normally considered to be in the public domain, many of the reports contain illustrations that are copies of materials NOT in the public domain, for which one-time reprint permission was obtained prior to each report's publication. Persons wishing to use these illustrations for any purpose beyond educational perusal must obtain their own permissions from the owners of the original materials.


  • Albright, Horace M. and Marian Albright Schenck Creating the National Park Service: The Missing Years. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999. 350 pp. A behind-the-scenes history shedding light on the early days of National Park Service history.

  • Dilsaver, Lary M., ed. America's National Park System: The Critical Documents. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1994. 470 pp. This compilation of key laws, executive orders, policy statements, reports, and other documents affecting resources management in the parks includes historical summaries of associated events and trends.

  • Everhart, William C. The National Park Service. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1983. 197 pp. A former leader of NPS interpretation covers the highlights of the bureau's history and focuses on some of the key issues facing it and the parks.

  • Everhardt, Bill. Take Down Flag & Feed Horses. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1998.

  • Farabee, Charles R. "Butch", Jr. Death, Daring and Disaster: Search and Rescue in the National Parks. Boulder, CO: The Roberts Rinehart Publishing Group, 1999.

  • Foresta, Ronald A. America's National Parks and Their Keepers. Washington: Resources for the Future, 1985. 382 pp. A geographer analyzes the NPS as a bureaucracy and traces the forces shaping the evolution of the park system.

  • Hosmer, Charles B., Jr. Preservation Comes of Age: From Williamsburg to the National Trust, 1926-1949. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981. 2 v., 1,291 pp. Part Three of this broad survey (pages 469-806) recounts the major role of the NPS and its historical staff in the historic preservation movement.

  • Ise, John. Our National Park Policy: A Critical History. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1961. 701 pp. An older but still useful account focusing primarily on the natural parks.

  • Kaufman, Polly W. National Parks and the Woman's Voice: A History. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1996. 305 pp. The contributions of women to the National Park Service and the national park movement.

  • Mackintosh, Barry. The National Parks: Shaping the System. Washington, DC:  National Park Service, 1991. 128 pp. The NPS bureau historian discusses significant developments and trends in the growth of the park system. Tables list all park additions chronologically through 1990.

  • Rettie, Dwight F. Our National Park System: Caring for America's Greatest Natural and Historic Treasures. Urbana, IL: : University of Illinois Press, 1995. 293 pp. A former NPS official offers his views on the park system and the bureau responsible for it.

  • Rothman, Hal K. America's National Monuments: The Politics of Preservation. Lawrence, KA: University Press of Kansas, 1994. 280 pp. Examines the different roles of and attitudes toward national monuments within the park system and service.

  • Runte, Alfred. National Parks: The American Experience. Lincoln, NE.: 2d ed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987. 335 pp. Treats the origins and evolution of the national park idea and its political and bureaucratic implementation.

  • Runte, Alfred. Trains of Discovery. Nitwot, CO:  Roberts Rinehart Publishers, 1994.

  • Runte, Alfred. Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness.Lincoln, NE:  University of Nebraska Press, 1990

  • Sax, Joseph L. "America's National Parks: Their Principles, Purposes, and Prospects." Natural History, October 1976. pp. 59-87. Analyzes the purpose of the parks in terms of what kinds of development and use they should allow.

  • Sax, Joseph L. Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. 1980.

  • Schullery, Paul. Searching for Yellowstone: Ecology and Wonder in the Last Wilderness. Houghton Mifflin Press.

  • Sellars, Richard West, Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1997. 380 pp. This book provides a fresh look at the National Parks and an analysis of why the Service has not responded in full faith to the environmental concerns of recent times.

  • Sontag, William H., ed. National Park Service: The First 75 Years. Philadelphia, PA: Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 1990. 64 pp. A concise history of the bureau interspersed with biographical sketches of 36 key park employees and supporters from the 19th century to the present.

  • Spence, Mark David. Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000.


  • Albright, Horace M., and Robert Cahn. The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-33. Salt Lake City: Howe Brothers, 1985. 340 pp. Albright recalls his key role in launching the bureau, his years as superintendent of Yellowstone (1919-29), and his term as director (1929-33).

  • Hartzog, George B., Jr. Battling for the National Parks. Mt. Kisco, NY: Moyer Bell, 1988. 284 pp. Hartzog's account of his colorful NPS career, including his service as Jefferson National Expansion Memorial superintendent (1959-62) and director (1964-72).

  • Ridenour, James M. The National Parks Compromised: Pork Barrel Politics and America's Treasures. Merrillville, IN: ICS Books, 1994. 254 pp. Ridenour's account of his tenure as director (1989-93) devotes particular attention to congressional relations and concessions.

  • Shankland, Robert. Steve Mather of the National Parks. 3d ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. 346 pp. A lively biography of the charismatic founder and first director (1917-29).

  • Swain, Donald C. Wilderness Defender: Horace M. Albright and Conservation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970. 347 pp. A scholarly biography focusing on Albright's Park Service career and evaluating his role in the conservation movement.

  • Wirth, Conrad L. Parks, Politics, and the People. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980. 397 pp. Wirth's autobiography covers his service as NPS planner and administrator beginning in 1931 and culminating in his term as director (1951-64).