The hot dry inland Northwest summer of 2015 prompted this read. The conditions were similar; fortunately the 70 mph winds waited until November otherwise someone could've written The Big Burn 2. A fascinating tale of local history that happened a mere century ago. It is good to be reminded that nature is an unstoppable force and that we humans live at its mercy. The parallel tale of the movement to preserve land it in its natural state and the never ending battle against greed and consumption was inspirational.
The Big Burn was a wonderful story, and it kept me spellbound. The character development in this book makes you feel like you know Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt, and so many others. If you love history you will love this book. I enjoyed hearing about Ed Pulaski, the Forest Service and the politics to defend and conserve our land. I had not read much on President Taft so all of that was an eye opener for me! It was a fantastic book!
The Forest Service and their sacrifices.
This is an excellent book, but I have to take stars off because of the bias for TR and lazy reporting on Wm Howard Taft. Like any other person or president, TR was not all good or all bad. He was colorful & Egan seemed taken by him. His descriptions of Taft, however, were inexcusable. Taft was a large man but for Egan, Taft's size seems to his only characteristic. Taft was an accomplished man, later the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. I would have much rather heard about TR & Taft's disagreements without continuing to hear about Taft's size.
The story was good, however the title is a little misleading. Teddy Roosevelt plays a bit part in this story and based on the actual outcomes of US Forestry policy, as told by this book, it's doubtful if either the fire or Roosevelt saved America. However if you go into this knowing you'll hear about the earliest days of the US Forest Service and how many interesting people were affected by the biggest US forest fire (at that time) you'll enjoy it. You'll learn quite a bit about Gifford Pinchot and possibly, like me, want to hear more of his story. Overall I recommend it for anyone interested in an interesting piece of history from the early 20th century.
If you have a love for the outdoors and how our forfathers fought for its preservation this is an amazing story of why WE still get to enjoy these things today! The Narrator is perfect for this story
I was immediately pulled in by this book. It is structured in a brilliant way and the subject matter was something I had barely ever heard about - never even touched upon in my public schools growing up.
So, listening to the build up of the forest service - and the circumstances around the fire - had a sense of unreality for me. I had to keep reminding myself that this really happened. Part of that was because of the scale of the destruction and the way the heroes were badly treated (before, during, and after the fire). Overall, I came away with the strong belief that this is a part of American history that should have much more attention.
I thought I would like this book but I found out I loved it! Fascinating story of the rise of the National Forestry Service.
If you like history, this is a good listen about an event that never got much attention. Well researched and good narration.
I first put The Big Burn on my wish list years ago, probably after reading the excerpt during an Audible sale. I remember thinking that the description somehow reminded me of another small historical book, A Thread Across the Ocean. The book remained on my wish list for years. Finally, I gave it a chance and am very happy that I did. My knowledge of the early 20th century was pretty limited, but I have made it through several books during the last 18 months or so that at least touched on the time period. The most prominent was Doris Kearns Goodwin's The Bully Pulpit, which was also very interesting. All these books included many of the same people, so I have different perspectives from the various authors. While The Bully Pulpit was good, the part about the deteriorating relationship between Roosevelt and Taft just did not feel right. The Big Burn tells a story that seems much more plausible. Ms. Goodwin seems to have fit part of her narrative to her preconceived premise. While the Roosevelt - Taft interaction is only a small part of this book, it does illustrate why this book feels accurate to me.
This book consists of a bigger picture, the formation of the Forest Service and the great fire that is told through many smaller stories of individuals, events and actions before, during and after the fire. You learn about the what happened to a series of characters throughout the fire. These stories are well crafted into the complete narrative. Some of these stories have to be reasonable conjecture given that it includes the deaths of groups with no survivors. Mr. Egan is not unbiased and has selected his heroes who all seem reasonable, but the environmental, political side could probably be more balanced. If there is a weakness, it is putting the fire in context of the country. Through the book, the story seems huge, yet neither myself nor my friends had any notion of the fire before my listening to the book.
I really recommend the book for anyone with interest into relatively obscure history and those that want to learn about the dawn of the American environmentalist era. You meet a lot of prominent individuals of the period, but the focus is the fire. It is not always the exciting story that will keep you alert if you are tired and driving, but it is informative, engaging and entertaining. Being from California, to some extent the issues are the same today.