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"The volume begins with a series of exquisite photographs— thirty eight plates in all — showing scenes of the monument (and, later, park) between 1936 and 2015, followed by several outstanding color maps.
... what readers will find between the covers of this well- written, carefully crafted, and attractive book is an unvarnished blow-by-blow account of the making of a national park. Anyone who picks up this book and is truly interested in the origins, management, and future of America's public lands will be richly rewarded."
—Geoffrey L. Buckley, Ohio University (read the full review here, pdf, Volume 47 [2019] of Historical Geography)

"Dilsaver's detailed, lushly illustrated, and insightful history uses the complicated history of Joshua Tree's preservation and the vexing administrative challenges the park faced throughout its history to reveal larger issues of changing cultural perceptions of deserts and arid landscapes. In three sections and eight chapters, he shows as much as he says with extensive custom maps and color illustrations, including a beautiful gallery of historic and contemporary images."
—Andrew Kirk, University of Nevada, written for the Environmental History Journal vol. 24 (January 2019) (read the full review here, pdf)

"After years of conducting meticulous research, Lary Dilsaver has successfully assembled the authoritative account of the storied and complex history of Joshua Tree National Park. Like other national-park-based conservation efforts in the California Desert, Joshua Tree's story is filled with challenges and conflicts. He has traced the park's tumultuous past from its establishment as a national monument in 1936, through the removal of more than 265,000 acres from the national monument during the 1950s, to its designation, expansion, and administration as a national park in 1994, and up to the present time. Preserving the Desert is a must read for all who love our national parks, enjoy the California Desert, and would like to see these lands preserved in perpetuity!"
—Mark Butler, Retired Superintendent, Joshua Tree National Park

"In Dilsaver's third book, Preserving the Desert, the author applies a similarly rigorous scholarly approach to produce a fascinating and highly readable history of Joshua Tree National Park in California's southern deserts. As before, the chapters are organized chronologically, but in this case the book opens with a stellar 45-page 'visual journey' of the park. Consisting of a series of beautifully rendered black and white and color photographs and maps, this unique introductory pulls the reader into the stunning landscape of Joshua Tree in a most powerful way." (read the full review here, pdf)
—Randall K. Wilson, Gettysburg College, Journal of Historical Geography 64 (2019) 104-120

"This outstanding book will serve as the definitive historical geography and management history of Joshua Tree National Park. Joshua Tree is one of the nation's most visited yet threatened parks, and it offered author Lary Dilsaver an opportunity to explore the area's evolution from an unwanted wasteland to an environmentally vulnerable and amenity-rich sanctuary. The fascinating story he tells also reveals how Joshua Tree is not only a window into the larger evolution of Southern California, but an outstanding example of how a blossoming affinity for an arid-lands aesthetic transformed a place once seen as devoid of beauty or utility into one of the nation's premier desert playgrounds and preserves."
—William Wyckoff, Professor of Geography, Montana State University, and author of How to Read the American West: A Field Guide and Creating Colorado: The Making of a Western American Landscape, 1860–1940

"This new book is a comprehensive examination of its history, development, boundary changes, conflicts, champions and detractors, and the men and women charged with its management and protection.
Dilsaver delves into current and future issues in an informed and balanced manner. The maps and photos are plentiful and excellent. And, the book's production is handsome and first rate. Its is a rugged volume that will serve the reader well, both at home, in the office, and in the field."
—Robert Pavlik, The Wave, California State Park Rangers Association newsletter (readthe full review here, pdf)




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