Jordan Fisher Smith delves into the world of wildlife ecology with his latest book Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature. This fascinating work of nonfiction details the history of America’s national parks, how they are managed, and what “wildlife ecology” exactly is. Engineering Eden is centered on the 1975 civil trial Martin v. United States, regarding the death of Harry Walker by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. Smith’s research is exceptional and the facts he presents are telling. Unfortunately, the book loses its momentum when Smith goes off on multiple tangents and gives his own opinions. The pacing really picks up in the second half, but the story involves so many people that the text is often confusing. Engineering Eden is recommended for those with an interest or background knowledge of ecology.
Review of an Advance Reading Copy
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Crown Publishers
Profanity/Language: 2 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 2 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: An implied occurrence of violence; frequent secondhand reports of violence involving bear attacks, death by fire, death by falling tree, shootings of bears and people, war, Indian attack; frequent brief scenes of violence include shooting and/or beating bears and elk, being attacked by bears, and a bear seizing a child. In several non-detailed scenes of violent death, people die in the Vietnam War; head-on car collision; falling in a geyser pool; fall while mountain climbing and being mauled by bears. Multiple scenes of blood and gore, a few over a page, include autopsy reports from a bear mauling and vivid descriptions of other bear attacks. In several scenes of intense violence, bear attacks are described in great detail, with a few longer than a page in length.
Sex/Nudity: An incident of kissing occurs.
Mature Subject Matter:
Animal cruelty, sport hunting, predator extermination, Civil War & Vietnam War, draft dodging, contagion, lawsuits regarding wrongful death, underage drinking and drug use, smoking.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Frequent smoking and drinking of beer and wine; underage drinking and drug use, including use of LSD.