Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park, by Lee H. WhittleseyI wish I had read this book before our family vacation in Montana. Though we had no problems during our visit to Yellowstone, I would have exercised even more caution. After reading this book, you know: mis-steps CAN happen.This book chronicles more than 300 deaths which have occurred at Yellowstone Park. Some stories are short; some only one-line, especially the older ones with little original documentation. Some stories are given more attention by the author, including some which involved the courts, in this way showing the reader that the end result is that the Park visitor takes his own life into his hands when entering Wilderness. The book is broken into two parts. Death by Nature covers death by hot springs, wild animals and plants, lightning, falling rocks and trees, forest fires, drowning, falls and such. The chapters in Death by Man cover fights, suicides, murders, Indian battles, road and air deaths, etc. (He does not include automobile or snowmobile deaths that would “probably add another couple of hundred”.) Appendices include a chronology of the deaths, information about the various cemeteries, and extensive notes on source documents. Each chapter chronicles the deaths involved in that fashion, ending with lessons to be gleaned.From the introduction: “Why would anyone write a book like this? The obvious answers are these: there are illuminating safety lessons to be learned, there is fascinating history in the stories, and there are legal ramifications for park managers. Certainly the stories are heartwrenching. But they teach us.”The author has done his job well, researching the events, compiling the stories in a thoughtful manner, and, with the knowledge coming from his past association with the Park, and his personal experience, drawing conclusions and offering safety rules pertinent to each category. (My rating: 4 stars.)I found most interesting the chapters about lightning (eerie history of lightning in sections of the park, at least 5 fatalities); the hot springs (at least 19 fatalities, over 100 injuries); and the water (more than 100 fatalities), including Yellowstone lake (at least 39 persons having drowned in just that one lake, with 17 unrecovered, leading to the rumor that “Yellowstone Lake never gives up its dead”). On Yellowstone Lake, the forces that combine to cause so many drownings are sudden, violent storms capsizing boats, and the frigid water (45 degrees) which swimmers inevitably succumb to.As the author concludes, “…while we are loving the Yellowstone wilderness, while we play in it, indeed revel in it, taking it on its own terms and helping to protect it, we foolish mortals must always remember to respect it. For not only can it bite us, but, indeed, it can devour us.” The tragedy which most unsettled me happened to a family whose children were the same age as some of ours were the summer that we visited Yellowstone, our youngest then being a very active 9 year old. This family was walking along the boardwalk viewing the hot pools, the parents walking in front, followed by their 9 year-old son, with their 15 year old daughter and her friend behind. The father heard him say, “I wonder if this water really is hot?”. The girls saw him turn and run toward the hot spring, and, with his arms over his head, he jumped in. “The last glimpse his mother had of him was seeing his rigid stark-white face, the mark of his pain and apprehension of death, sinking into the boiling water.”It haunts me yet.