We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
The Big Burn Audiobook

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America

Regular Price:$20.99
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

In The Worst Hard Time, Timothy Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history, told through characters he brought to indelible life. Now he performs the same alchemy with The Big Burn, the largest-ever forest fire in America, a tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy.

On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping hundreds of small blazes into a roaring inferno that destroyed towns and timber in an eye-blink. Forest rangers assembled nearly 10,000 men - college boys, day workers, immigrants from mining camps - to fight the fire. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.

Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of President Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of national forests as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen. The robber barons fought them, but the fire saved the forests even as it destroyed them: the heroism shown by the rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, even as it changed the mission of the Forest Service, with consequences felt in the fires of today.

The Big Burn tells an epic story, paints a moving portrait of the people who lived it, and offers a critical cautionary tale for our time.

©2009 Timothy Egan; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1314 )
5 star
 (594)
4 star
 (484)
3 star
 (189)
2 star
 (31)
1 star
 (16)
Overall
4.4 (915 )
5 star
 (502)
4 star
 (281)
3 star
 (105)
2 star
 (19)
1 star
 (8)
Story
4.4 (909 )
5 star
 (455)
4 star
 (347)
3 star
 (89)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-15-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Historically relevant"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Best Graham, Washington USA 01-23-16
    J. Best Graham, Washington USA 01-23-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Outstanding book!"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen Hunter Greenfield, IN United States 01-10-16
    Gretchen Hunter Greenfield, IN United States 01-10-16 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    115
    17
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great History of Forest Service"
    Would you listen to The Big Burn again? Why?

    No


    What did you like best about this story?

    The Forest Service and their sacrifices.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Walkington 10-29-15

    J-Walks

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More Gifford Pinchot than Roosevelt"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dusty G. 10-13-15
    Dusty G. 10-13-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Perfect!"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle Robbins USA 09-16-15
    Michelle Robbins USA 09-16-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    48
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating bit of history that is often forgoten"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mathgod Bay Area, CA 08-23-15
    Mathgod Bay Area, CA 08-23-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent history of Forest Services"

    I thought I would like this book but I found out I loved it! Fascinating story of the rise of the National Forestry Service.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 07-11-15
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 07-11-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    678
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    324
    221
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    48
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great listen"

    If you like history, this is a good listen about an event that never got much attention. Well researched and good narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harvey Trabuco Canyon, CA, United States 04-27-15
    Harvey Trabuco Canyon, CA, United States 04-27-15 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "If you are interested, it is worth it."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rudolph 03-04-15
    rudolph 03-04-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Wow history that I never knew!"

    This is a great piece of history on National forests. If you like the outdoors, you will for sure enjoy this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.