Before They're Gone by Michael Lanza

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This is one book you will thoroughly enjoy reading.
-Adventure Tykes


A lifelong backpacker, Michael Lanza knows our national parks like the back of his hand. As a father of two, he hopes to share these special places with his kids. But he has seen firsthand the changes wrought by global warming and understands what lies ahead: melting glaciers, disappearing species, and inundated coastlines. To Lanza, it feels like the house he grew up in is being looted. Painfully aware of the ecological--and spiritual--calamity that global warming will bring to our nation's parks, Lanza is determined to show his children these wonders before they have changed forever.

He takes his nine-year-old son, Nate, and seven-year-old daughter, Alex, on an ambitious journey to see as many climate-threatened wild places as he can fit into a year: backpacking in the Grand Canyon, Glacier, the North Cascades, Mt. Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and along the wild Olympic coast; sea kayaking in Alaska's Glacier Bay; hiking to Yosemite's waterfalls; rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park; cross-country skiing in Yellowstone; and canoeing in the Everglades.

Through these adventures, Lanza shares the beauty of each place, and shows how his children connect with nature when given "unscripted" time. Ultimately, he writes, this is more their story than his, for whatever comes of our changing world, they are the ones who will live in it.

About Michael Lanza

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Michael Lanza is a veteran freelance outdoors writer and photographer. He is the northwest editor of Backpacker magazine, where his articles about the impacts of climate change on Montana's Glacier National Park and other wild lands helped Backpacker win a National Magazine Award. He runs the website TheBigOutside.
Published April 3, 2012 by Beacon Press. 225 pages
Genres: Sports & Outdoors, Nature & Wildlife, Travel, Parenting & Relationships, Science & Math. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Before They're Gone
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0


Jan 15 2012

Intriguing premise; decent execution—certainly of interest to environmentalists and other eco-minded readers.

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Publishers Weekly

Mar 19 2012

This is a terrific blend of adventure. . .and ecological forecasting. . .that aptly conveys the passion of a devoted outdoorsman, and serves as a wake-up call to the state of our planet.

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Appalachian Mountain Club

Reviewed by Kristin Laine on Mar 20 2012

The tension between the family idyll and the looming environmental catastrophe can feel almost unbearable. Lanza masterfully deploys that uncomfortable tension to make the book's key emotional points.

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Family Wilds

Reviewed by Pablo on Apr 27 2012

The book is less than 200 pages, but we assure that it is filled from beginning to end with beautifully written stories and insights.

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Adventure Tykes

Apr 26 2012

This is one book you will thoroughly enjoy reading.

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Mother of all Trips

Reviewed by Mara on Apr 23 2012

Ultimately I believe that Lanza’s travels and his book are both acts of optimism that we as parents can emulate.

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Troy Putney

Troy Putney 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list