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The Last Season

Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Destined to become a classic of adventure literature, The Last Season examines the extraordinary life of legendary backcountry ranger Randy Morgenson and his mysterious disappearance in California's unforgiving Sierra Nevada - mountains as perilous as they are beautiful. Eric Blehm's masterful work is a gripping detective story interwoven with the riveting biography of a complicated, original, and wholly fascinating man.

©2006 Richard Leversee (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

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  • Kathy in CA
  • 23-06-2016

Well Written Character Study of an NPS Ranger

The book is an in-depth character study of a national park service ranger, Randy Morgenson, who went missing while on duty in the California back country of Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks in 1996.

Morgenson was a complicated character, what you might call an extreme environmentalist. It appeared he was at his happiest during his summers working as a park ranger and stationed in the wilderness areas. From all accounts and according to Blehm's research, Randy was well-liked by many. His disappearance affected many people, and this book details the search for him.

I found the book interesting and an easy listen overall. However, I felt it was too long and covered too much minutiae. Very little of the twelve plus hours of listening covered the search and rescue action which to me was the most interesting part. Yet, I had to keep listening as I needed to know the outcome of the search. I had to know if Randy was the victim of an untimely accident, if he just decided to disappear and start a new life, or if he committed suicide. These three options were all viable possibilities, and I spent alot of time pondering the outcome during times I was not listening.

In addition, I spent a good deal of time pondering why Blehm chose to invest so much time and research on this particular man. I also wondered whether Randy was as self-absorbed as I imagined he was, and if so, why was he so beloved by so many co-workers. No easy answers on these questions, and I came away with no firm resolution. Considering how much I thought about the book when I was not listening, I am feeling it was a worthwhile read. In addition, the ending took me by surprise and was not what I was expecting.

Add to this an excellent narration by Jonathan Davis and I would recommend this audio book, particularly to nature lovers.

109 of 113 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 29-09-2016

Great story but not tight.

The author did his research and it shows! It was my favorite thing and my least favorite thing at the same time. Including what everyone thought at every point in the time line was woven together beautifully but made for an extremely repetitive narrative. Lots and lots of variations on the same themes repeated from many angles. I don't think the author missed a single angle but I was wishing he had by the end!

63 of 67 people found this review helpful

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  • Melinda Ecker
  • 09-12-2015

Don't Take This Book For Granite!

Such a compelling story drew me in from the start. I am NOT a backpacker, or avid hiker and I have never visited the High Sierras. I was drawn to this book because I love a good mystery and his disappearance and the circumstances surrounding it drew me in.
But the picturesque, stunningly beautiful world of granite mountains and flowery meadows --and Randy Morgenson's love, reverence and dedication to protecting it made for a most worthy and fascinating read. I envied his idyllic upbringing in the Yosemite valley. Such a unique individual, loved and respected by many, yet, like many of us, flawed and complex and at times hard to understand. A very worthwhile read!

52 of 56 people found this review helpful

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  • Lese35
  • 29-11-2015

Engrossing!

Excellent story and enjoyed the narration. I did not know the outcome of this before I began reading and the story was told so well- the past and search were interwoven with an excellent balance! Thoroughly enjoyed and glad I had 8 hours in the car this weekend to listen

27 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann
  • 06-12-2015

Poignant Story on Importance of National Parks

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely. The story starts by telling the narrative of what happened to Ranger Randy Morgenson in the High Sierras, summer of 1996, but over time became the story of our collective relationship with the US national park system. What became clear as the story progressed was the function the park system performs for us all, by providing these holy vistas to connect to a greater "why?". Through Randy Morgenson's humility, his sage words and principled behavior, I came to understand what his life ultimately represented, an overwhelming appreciation for the connection between all things, as experienced in his interactions that took place in the High Sierra and Kings Canyon NPS over the 26 years he worked there. The fact that he did not receive benefits not pension, nor even the guarantee of continued employment, yet came back each year with enthusiasm, to work as America's shepherd and guide to the wonders of that high place, speaks volumes about the character of the man. And to his fellow park rangers, as well. Although I've never been to the twin HS/KC NPS, but I have visited to Yosemite a number of times, as well as Glacier NP, Arches NP and the Delaware River National Recreation Area, and each time I visit, I feel that it does not get any better than this, that these American treasures are truly heaven on earth. Randy Morgenson understood this on a profound level.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Last Season?

Randy giving his sermon on the mountain to the students. Wish I could have been there, to hear those inspirational words spoken during an amazing point in time.

Which scene was your favorite?

The SAR party strategy meeting.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, enjoy spreading it out.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Running Musicman
  • 26-02-2016

changes the way you'll view the world

my definition of a good book is one that impacts you in such a way that you are a different person after you finish it... or you "see" things in a different light. This book does that absolutely. It changes the way I will view nature from this point forward in my life

42 of 47 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark T
  • 06-12-2015

Started Out Skeptical - But What a Great Story!

Where does The Last Season rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 10%

What did you like best about this story?

It is just a great human-interest story, the kind of story you usually only get in stories of wartime deeds by military heroes. But this is in an entirely different setting, and it's a great listen.

31 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Angela
  • 19-10-2017

Better than Fiction!

This is a suspenseful mystery with a fascinating cast of characters, but it's also a look at how undervalued the people who protect our national parks are. These are the people who risk their lives every day to look after our greatest natural resources, and, like teachers and so many others who give of themselves every day, simply aren't given the resources, pay or even acknowledgement of how much society values their contribution. Here is the story of a man who went back year after year for three decades to do seasonal work as a park ranger, was never offered a permanent position and rarely had any indication that his field reports were even being read. Yet he was considered one of the most knowledgable and capable rangers in the High Sierra. Throughout his career, radio problems cropped up again and again. Did such a problem ultimately lead to his death? We can't answer that, but I assume that the problem never got fixed because of budget cuts. No doubt the money that might have been used on our National Park Service got used for something more important, like bailing out banks or funding MIC projects. The way his widow is treated by the Department of Justice after his death will come as no surprise after hearing the rest of the story.
Jonathon Davis is good as always, and a great choice of reader for this compelling story.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Bryce T. Lim
  • 30-12-2015

Inspirational

If you enjoy the outdoors this book will inspire you! If you don't, you will soon have a seed of wonder and respect for the outdoors planted firmly in your imagination.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • 31-01-2016

Another great listen

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes this is a very recommendable book. This is another good book to read if your interested in the human side of the NPS. It also has good insight into the priceless resource that is are National Parks and Forests.

Any additional comments?

Its a shame the NPS doesnt take better care of their Rangers. They might as well get treated at the VA.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Richard Norton
  • 17-01-2018

Great book for lovers of the outdoors and a mystery

This tale of disappearance and ultimately death in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is sad but brings the beauty of the High Sierras into sharp focus. The amazing work of the seasonal NPS rangers who go without pensions, long term benefits and poor pay is also well highlighted. Recommended for outdoors fans!

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  • LunAndyDog
  • 04-03-2017

Great biography and mystery

Great biography and examination of the disappearance of experienced backcountry ranger. If you like outdoor literature read this.