Author D.B. McCrea worked as a game warden for more than twenty years, and his memoir The Forgotten Lawmen Part 1: The Life and Adventures of a South Dakota Game Warden is a wonderful opportunity to take a peek into a little-understood career. This first book covers McCrea’s career from his hiring in 1983 to approximately 1986 (not every chapter is dated and it’s sometimes unclear how much time has passed) and chronicles his on-the-job learning curve from mistakes to great triumphs. He highlights the difficulty of being the new warden in town in a place that had spent twenty-five years without one, and trying to connect with the locals while instilling the fear of legal repercussions into the poachers. He also is open about the contradictions within his agency and the sometimes-unreasonable hours he and his fellow wardens were forced to work.
McCrea writes with honesty and simplicity, giving enough detail to keep readers turning pages, but not enough to leave you overstimulated. The book does suffer a bit from disorganization, often jumping back and forth through time via side-tangents, but it isn’t distracting enough to make someone walk away. The book is largely about personal experiences and revealing some of the daily grind of game wardens, which deals quite often with violent poachers and dead game animals (as well as the ever-present road kill), so do be warned that if you can’t handle such topics. However, there are plenty of heartfelt moments to balance out the grislier aspects of the job.
If you’re looking for flowery words or a gripping narrative, then this book isn’t for you. However, readers interested in losing themselves for a few hours in one man’s memoir and taking a glimpse inside the lives of game wardens will find The Forgotten Lawmen Part 1 to be an enjoyable read.
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