I had the pleasure of meeting Shelton Johnson at an REI where was doing a presentation about Yosemite He was in character as Elijah Yancy A truly moving and wonderful evening I couldn t wait to read his upcoming book, Gloryland So much history, so much love of nature While I m not a huge fan of reading poetry, it works in this book and adds depth to the story I d recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Yosemite, the Buffalo soldiers, national parks, nature, and a good story By the way, this is the same Ranger Johnson that was heavily featured in the Ken Burn series, The National Parks America s Greatest Idea. I really think Shelton Johnson did a great job describing the feel of Yosemite and the Sierras His prose is vivid and lyrical It was a high meadow so close to the sky that the blue of heaven began to stain the plants below You could see it in the high grass and flowers with the blue of the sky in their petals Sky was so close there, maybe it was leaching its color, so after a rain the plant just pulls it from the air and gets drunk on it, waving back and forth in the breeze, giddy with indigo An easy, yet thoroughly enjoyable read. Gloryland by Shelton Johnson is the story of Elijah Yancy who is born on Emancipation Day in 1863 He is the son of sharecroppers who live in Spartanburg, South Carolina Unfortunately they quickly learn that in the South emancipation did not mean equality.Elijah s background is interesting in that he is both black and of Indian descent As a teenager he witnesses a lynching and soon after he must leave the South in order to be spared his own life He walks until he reaches Nebraska where he ends up joining the U.S Army as part of the Calvary Elijah struggles with being a part of an army that requires him to subdue Native Americans in the West and then sends him to the Philippines to help quell a rebellion In both cases he realizes he is helping to take away land and freedoms from strangers freedoms he has never experienced himself.At the end of the story Elijah is sent to Yosemite to help patrol the newly created National Park It is the first time he feels at home and that he has found a source of personal freedom Along the way he realizes that he has lived most of his life being angry and he is looking for a way to leave that anger behind him.This was a very good book though some components of it were fairly graphic I had a particularly hard time reading the about the lynching.Excerpts from the book He once told me that if you have to ask for something that was already yours, then you d given it up Up to that day Daddy believed as if he had rights, but he died outside that courthouse trying to claim what nobody should have to ask for When you re afraid, everything is clear, too clear, and the fear seems like something living, the shadow of everything you re seeing and feeling I was afraid of everything and nothing, especially the nothing that s a hole living inside when you got no one near who cares if you live or die Seems like to get something in this world, you gotta take it from someone else If Anger is a place to live in, then I think 1898 is the year I moved all the way there but when you re a good citizen of Anger, you re living alone and there ain t no church, no God to hear you raging, and no family near enough to get singed by your heat No one wants to die No one wants to be forgotten, and to be forgotten is to die maybe that s why I pray so much, so God can learn to pick my voice out of the noise he s got to listen to, so he can remember my voice I lived in Anger so long I forgot that there were other places you could live I didn t notice that I had no neighbors and no friends I didn t notice that being alone was a place I d built with my own hands When you re a good citizen of Anger, you re stuck inside you, feeling sorry for yourself cause there ain t nobody around to take up the slack. This is not a book to consume It is a book to savor The first person narrative is about the struggle and redemption of a black man born on emancipation day in South Carolina He leaves his home in the post civil war south, joins the army and eventually finds his personal salvation as a guard in Yosemite National Park The book is like a beautiful poem, like a river of thought, taking you through rough rapids, over rocks and boulders and finally finding a peaceful place to land I give it 5 stars, but would give if I could. I found Gloryland a joy to read Shelton Johnson s writing s provides narration and poetry about Elijah Yancy and his journey from his life in South Carolina to becoming a Buffalo Soldier Shelton Johnson s poetic description of the astonishing beauty of Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks as seen throughout the eyes of Elijah Yancy will warm your heart while dreaming of such beauty.A very good read Each chapter in this book reads almost like poetry This is not a gripping book, certainly not in terms of plot, but reading it chapter by chapter left me with a feeling of insight into the daunting world of being black, male, and strong minded at the end of the 19th century in the newly free south The book is supposedly about the experiences of one of the first African American park rangers the first ones were US Calvary soldiers in Yosemite, but only the last few chapters touch on the narrator s experience in Yosemite Instead, the book explores what is was like to try and find one s way in a white world, and finally how the beauty and timelessness of nature provides a healing space for the main character. Born On Emancipation Day To A Sharecropping Family Of Black And Indian Blood, Elijah Yancy Never Lived As A Slave But His Self Image As A Free Person Is At War With His Surroundings Spartanburg, South Carolina, In The Reconstructed South Exiled For His Own Survival As A Teenager, Elijah Walks West To The Nebraska Plains And, Like Other Rootless Young African American Men Of That Era, Joins Up With The US CavalryThe Trajectory Of Elijah S Army Career Parallels The Nation S Imperial Adventures In The Late Th Century Subduing Native Americans In The West, Quelling Rebellion In The Philippines Haunted By The Terrors Endured By Black Americans And By His Part In Persecuting Other People Of Color, Elijah Is Sustained Only By Visions, Memories, Prayers, And His Questing Spirit Which Ultimately Finds A Home When His Troop Is Posted To The Newly Created Yosemite National Park In Here, Living With Little Beyond Mountain Light, Running Water, Campfires, And Stars, He Becomes A Man Who Owns Himself Completely, While Knowing He S Left Pieces Of Himself Scattered Along His Life S Path Like Pebbles On A Creek Bed Story of a black man in the South who knows he must leave or die at the hands of those believe he is less than a man Elijah Yancey leaves home and after four years of wandering, joins the US Army to protect our first National Park Yosemite Elijah is transformed by the stark, raw beauty of this land. A man s life is than his memories It is the history of what he has learned, where he has been and what he has done This tale of a young black man growing up in Spartanburg, South Carolina during the Reconstructionist period draws out the racial tensions of the times, steeped with injustice and and inequalities And if you are a proud black man this not not the place to be.Elijah Yancy s life is framed by the love and caring of his parents and Grandmother So at 18 his family knows it s best for him to leave the south and thus begins his marvelous journey Meandering his way across the country in 1881 there doesn t seem much of a future for a black man until in Nebraska he decides to take his father s advice and join the Army.Fifteen years later after fighting in the Indian Wars of the plains and the West he is at another pivotal moment in his life when his 9th Cavalry unit is dispatched to the Philippines to stop an insurrection by the aboringal people within their Homeland Confronted by people the same color as he is he becomes deeply confused and conflicted as to the responsibility of his actions To find peace within himself Elijah remembers the stories of his Grandmother Sara, who has desended from American Indians and has lived a life of bigotry on both spectrums of the color line Red and black It from her sound teachings that he can begin to see his path And fortunately his life is going to take a turn for the better as his unit is ordered to leave San Francisco and soldier as custodians of Yosemite National Park It is here Elijah finally finds within himself the peace and well being of a man so close to God that he had stepped into heaven. Gloryland is the story of Elijah Yancy, the son of slaves, who was born on Emancipation Day in 1863 in Spartanburg, South Carolina But while slavery was ended sort of , African Americans are not free in the Reconstructed South As sharecroppers, they don t own the land they work on They can t vote And the risk of violence and death is always present As Elijah approaches manhood, his family tells him that he has to leave, or risk being killed for being outspoken and demanding dignity.Elijah heads West where he joins the Army, and eventually becomes a sergeant in the 19th Cavalry However, while the Army offers him the best chance of attaining freedom and respect, it also requires him to subdue Native Americans he himself has Seminole and Cherokee ancestors and quell rebellion in the Philippines How, he wonders, can he deny freedom to other people of color when black Americans have never had it Eventually Elijah ends up in Yosemite, protecting the national park Here too he has to displace Indians and Mexicans, but the beauty and the majesty of the place soothes his soul Shelton Johnson was himself a ranger at Yosemite for many years, and this novel is based on his own family records and stories.It s a moving story, filled with humor as well as horror It would make a great movie, and Ava DuVernay should direct it.
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Gloryland book, this is one of the most wanted Shelton Johnson author readers around the world.
- 256 pages
- Shelton Johnson
- 01 October 2017 Shelton Johnson