©2009 Timothy Egan; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
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.
I am Granny.
This is an incredible true account of why there are any forests left in America at all. This account in a large part, reads like dramatic and fast-moving fiction and this reader, as always, is outstanding. If you care about our environment, this is a must read.
Story: Interesting historical review of the US Forestry Service against the background of the US Progressive Movement at the turn of the 20th Century. It is really the story of the USF founder, Gifford Pinochot. As always, take with a grain of salt about the facts.
Reader: Excellent, as always.
What an extraordinary cast of characters were assembled to battle one of the most horrific natural disasters in our nation's history! The cast includes the greediest millionaires, the most spiritual nature lovers, the strongest and the weakest leaders, the Buffalo soldiers in search of honor, and the townspeople caught in the cross-hairs. As the saying goes, "You just can't make this stuff up!" Egan's descriptions of the forest and the wall of fire are first rate. His vivid prose gives the listener all the special effects needed to make this book memorable. The narrator was good, not great. But I'm grateful that he didn't over dramatize the scenes that truly did not need embellishment.
I'm glad I listened to this after I watched the Ken Burns Roosevelt series on PBS. It rounds out Teddy Roosevelt's legacy and deepens my gratitude and admiration for his dedication to preserving our most precious wild places. I shudder to think what the American West would have become without him.
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