Nature, true crime and a grizzly bear attack |

Nature, true crime and a grizzly bear attack

Jordan Fisher Smith's book Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial and Fight Over Controlling Nature, has received rave reviews from a slew of major newspapers and other publications. He appears tonight at The Center for The Arts to talk about the book and the issues it raises. Smith will be joined by Jason Mark, editor-in-chief of Sierra Magazine.
Photo by Keri Brenner |

Every writer ever birthed probably wishes to receive reviews on his or her book such as have been recently bestowed on Engineering Eden, by local writer Jordan Fisher Smith.

Smith, who appears tonight at The Center for the Arts to talk about the book (see page 7), will be joined by Jason Mark, editor-in-chief of Sierra Magazine. The two authors will discuss the book’s interweaving touchstones of the environment, crime, a grizzly bear attack, a dramatic court case and, according to The Wall Street Journal, “a surprisingly fascinating debate over what constitutes the word ‘natural’ when it comes to national parks.”

The book, fully titled Engineering Eden: The True Story of a Violent Death, a Trial, and the Fight Over Controlling Nature, was called “stunning” by Entertainment Weekly and “intensely reported, rousingly readable and ambitiously envisioned” by the Journal. The Seattle Times said, “Smith’s book will draw you in with his passion, thoughtfulness and first-rate storytelling.”

Not bad for a south Nevada County man who spent much of his 1980s and 1990s as an Auburn State Recreation Area park ranger. In April 1994, Smith was on duty for the investigation into the death of Placerville distance runner Barbara Schoener, who was killed by a mountain lion near Auburn Lake Trails, according to a Sept. 12 interview in the Auburn Journal. “It left a lasting impression on me,” Smith is quoted as saying. Now, 22 years later, Engineering Eden chronicles the death of Alabama man Harry Walker, who hitchhiked in 1972 to Yellowstone National Park and ended up being fatally attacked by a grizzly bear.

It seems Smith has hit a nerve. His show tonight should attract a large crowd from throughout the region.

In other events this weekend:

— Draft Horse Classic takes over Nevada County Fairgrounds (see page 8).

— Polly’s Palador offers gourmet dining events (see page 11).

— Mick Fleetwood Band and Achilles Wheel Duo play Vets Hall (see page 3).

— American Idol runner up Crystal Bowersox sings at Center for the Arts (see page 5).

May you be blessed with inner guidance for help in choosing from all the great arts, entertainment and recreation events happening in Nevada County.

And may you appreciate the fall season in the natural world, despite — or maybe because of — the dire back story in Engineering Eden.

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