Book: Empire of Shadows

Any time the word “epic” is used, I’m skeptical, but in the case of the Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone (St. Martin’s Griffin Press; $20) nothing less would suffice. Author George Black paints a vivid portrait of the region and its people with patient pacing and careful presentation, and with special consideration of human moments that often escape lesser historians. Black’s cast of characters includes intimate, revealing portraits of the usual heavies—Lt. Gustavus Cheyney Doane, Nathaniel Langford, Ferdinand Hayden, Gen. Phil Sheridan—but also includes fascinating snapshots of average citizens, who directed the course of Yellowstone history in more subtle, but perhaps not less important ways. Empire of Shadows is an engrossing read for any lover of Yellowstone, southwest Montana, and the West. Available at Country Bookshelf.