©2009 Timothy Egan; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
“Better for a man to fail, he said, even "to fail greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
― Timothy Egan, The Big Burn
A good history of Great Fire of 1910/the Big Burn and the fledgling years of the US Forest Service. Act one covers most of the major players: Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, Senator Heyburn, William Taft, Elers Koch, Bill Weigle,Joe Halm, and Ed Pulaski. Act two covers the fire. Act three, the aftermath. While the secondary title is perhaps a bit hyperbolic (really, the Fire that SAVED America?) it certainly cemented the Forest Service and their rangers into the hearts and minds of America.
I remember, one summer when I was nineteen, volunteering in Grand Junction, Colorado to help the Forest Service carve the Kokopelli Trail in the McInnis Canyon National Conservatory near Fruita, Colorado. The tool I used? A Pulanski. Later that year, I was living in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in 1994, the summer the South Canyon Fire raced down Storm King Mountain killing 14 hotshot firefighters from Oregon. I remember friends from HS and college going out and joining Forest Service hotshot fire crews. I remember just a couple years ago, in Idaho, my brother's brother-in-law and father-in-law flying water bombers fighting a fire that was burning part of the Southern Sawtooth National Forest that bordered my father's dry farm near Burley, Idaho. Fires and the Forest Service are in my blood and in my family. This book was a great look at its beginning. It was a good book on conservation and the early Forest Service, just not a great one.
I read hella books
By far the greatest book I have read in my entire lifetime.
Gifford Pinchot because he knocked Teddy Roosevelt out.
He takes you into the heart of the fire.
I was moved when the nun went back to save the elders in the basement of the hospital.
Best book ever.
Mountainbiker, Skier, Riverman, Dzedo, Pizzaiolo
I learned a lot . Lots of history about the establishment of the National Forest and Western wildfire. I live next to a National Forest and recreate routinely on the forest. It was right up my alley. Good thing to listen to when you are laying in firewood for winter.
There are many well drawn characters in this book. Teddy Roosevelt. Ed Polaski. This is a strength of the book. My favorite character was Gifford Pinchot . He is a man in large part forgotten but a founding father of the American conservation movement . His partnership/friendship with Teddy R has shaped modern conservation for more than a century. Even Teddy thought GP radical in his day. A hundred years later more of us need to appreciate and realize the importance of what Pinchot advocated and accomplished against powerful interests.
RD has a big, deep voice, and is a serious pro, but he isn't necessarily one of my favorites.
Timothy Egan is one of my favorite narrative nonfiction writers. Everything I have read of his is meticulously researched and fired with a strong narrative. Makes him a very easy read and/or listen.
My reading and listening tastes are eclectic.
I listened to this while hiking at Big Bend National Park. This book made me want to find me a Polanski and become a National Forest Ranger. It is a great book and amazingly well read. It is a gripping story, and you will find yourself doing stuff to keep from turning it off. Like laying in your tent in the dark, knowing you need to go to sleep, but not doing it so you can listen some more. I actually came back and bought a couple of books that weren't on tape about this subject so I could learn more. Awesome! Even if you are not particularly into National Parks, history, or the Forestry Service, this is a good listen with suspense, fear, intrigue, political machinations, shenanigans, fire, and salvation.
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!
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
I discovered Timothy Egan with "The Worst Hard Time" and have been reading his books and newspaper columns ever since. He has a wonderful, journalistic style that is both entertaining and informative.
I learned a lot from this book and highly recommend it for those who like their history fascinating and readable.
Good narrator, too.
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.
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 Perfect Storm is like The Big Burn. The difference is that The Big Burn includes historical persons and how the Federal government abandoned the rangers of the early days of the U.S. Forest Service at their time of greatest need.
There is a point when the last train out was full and those that could not get on realized they were probably not going to survive. It is tempting to think this is a fictional story. If the government did even half of the things they did in this book the people would demand that someone be criminally charged.
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