I wish when I was younger I would have had some mentoring to have guided me towards a career in the US Forest Service, which is largely what this book is about. Ed Pulaski, a U.S. Forest Service ranger a little know hero outside the forest, and Gifford Pinchot are two icons, that to this day have saved what would have been destroyed decades past! Great story!
This is an audible documentary of the National Forests. The narration and writing is so well done, I get lost in the story and can envision the fire leaping at myself, as if I were an observer. I have new heros and they lived trough this inferno!
This is a story about great men and women. Some well known, some that Timothy Egan has pulled out from the shadows and given them the spotlight they have long deserved. He has made a world full of sound, light and life in his writing. I still feel the sparks coming down and taste the smoke in the air.
I really enjoy historical non-fiction but this one is a little too long. Could have been more concise. I ended up skipping through some parts to get to the end.
I loved this author's dust bowl book but this one just wasn't as interesting.
The author weaves in the storyline of the fire with the broader political history. It adds a page-turner element to it. Very good.
History made exciting
I listened to this book on my commute and could hardly wait to get back in the car. A fantastic enlivening of history. The author delves into the characters to such a depth that as he switches from Washington DC to the new forestry department to the men in the forests we care about all of them and can't wait to hear how they collided it history.
The scenes of the fire itself were amazing--transporting. I learned a huge amount about forest fires and their power.
I'm not normally a student of history, but this book really helped me to understand things that I have just taken for granted, such as our National Park system.
Teddy Roosevelt had such great foresight to be able to realize that we needed to preserve our natural attibutes for the future generations.
I highly recommend reading this one!
Egan digs deep into historical records to give us firsthand accounts of the people involved and the forest fires that served as the basis for really establishing the U.S. Forest Service. The stories of Gifford Pinchot (first National Forester) and Teddy Roosevelt build the case for the Forest Service and resource conservation. He captures the awesome power of fire, echoing Norman MacLean's "Young Men and Fire" in describing the horror of death by fire. Narration was spot on -- conveying the challenges, but not unduly dramatically. Enjoyed the book thoroughly.
The Big Burn is an eye opener. It reads like a suspense thriller in a way because you are rooting for humans against the fire. Images are incredible and the mind set of the time as well as the political strife is well explained through the unfolding of this most terrible firestorm.
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
I think that the title of The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America is a bit misleading. This is a story about the worst wildfire in US history, Teddy Roosevelt, Chief of the Forest Service Gifford Pinchot, William Howard Taft, the West, and the timber industry, but it is mainly a history of the Forest Service, told through all of the preceding personalities and events. Initially this is nonfiction that reads like exciting fiction, but during the fire chapters, it begins to read like the screenplay for a hyperbolic Hollywood disaster movie. In the end, Roosevelt and Pinchot saved the Forest Service, but not America or America's forests. "The Forest Service became the fire service, protecting trees so industry could cut them down later."
Pinchot was unknown to me before listening to this book, and he is also the most interesting person in The Big Burn. This book has made me want to look for others about Pinchot, but that is probably the best recommendation I can muster for it.
I downloaded this book expecting to read about a natural disaster that I had never even heard of. Instead, I got a book that described the events and characters that led up to the Big Burn. I learned of Robber Barons, corrupt senators who were not elected in that time period,but appointed, idealistic conservationists, forest rangers who were the prototypes for generations to come, one president who was true blue and another one who was lazy and ineffective. I learned of why a third party presidential run was done because winning primaries was not a guarantee of getting the nomination. After I learned about all of this, then the fire started. The story itself is timeless as all of the same ingredients exist today, including raging wildfires in the Rocky Mountain west. The narrator has a deep easy to understand voice, but I had to take some of the bass out of my iPod so it wouldn't vibrate the speakers. In short, I got a lot more than I bargained for when I listened to this book. Anyone interested in the outdoors and how our public lands were started should consider this book a must read.