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The Big Burn Audiobook

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

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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 (1375 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Mary107 07-07-16
    Mary107 07-07-16
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    "Wonderful narration."

    Loved the narration and history of our National Forestry Dept. and the birth of our National Parks system.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    End User Bellevue, WA United States 07-06-16
    End User Bellevue, WA United States 07-06-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Great Listen"

    Excellent narration. Learned a lot about U.S. history. Early forest service and a new concept: CONSERVATION!! Thank you Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and many others.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Cindy 07-04-16
    Cindy 07-04-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Enjoyable Story"

    Well written and well performed. if you like American history it is an eye openner about a disaster you didn't hear about in school. This writer wrote one of my all time favorite books The Worst Hard Time. Read that one too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Houston Kissimmee, FL, United States 06-30-16
    Houston Kissimmee, FL, United States 06-30-16 Member Since 2011
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    "Comparison with western wild fires of Summer of 2016."

    An excellent lesson of the importance of our national resources for the good of everyone in the country both those of the current generation and those generations yet to be born.

    I do not know how closely the fires of the summer of 2016 resemble those of 1910. Hopefully the law makers and all citizens have, or will, learn valuable lessons to manage and protect our national resources so that commercial and esthetic interests will co exist in a mutual partnership that will allow both points of view to co exist for untold generations to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meghan B. Kass 05-07-16
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    "Great historical overview of the US Forest Service"

    Great look back at the history of the USFS, Conservation, and the Progressive ideas brought about by Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Goose 04-18-16
    The Goose 04-18-16
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    "Forgotten chapter in conservation history"

    this book is excellent accounting of the history of the conservation movement as a tool of government. I never understood how "progressive" Teddy Roosevelt was and how the same tired arguments against conservation are still espoused

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 04-10-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Infuriating, enlightening, terrifying"

    My Dad was a Forest Service Ranger for many years, which may explain why I liked this book so much and learning about the early history of the Service and the big fire that caused so many changes. The accounts of the fire, many quotes from people who experienced the horror, were frightening and well-written. It does lose one star for a tenancy to repetition and bias - even though I happen to agree with the bias.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 02-15-16 Member Since 2017
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    "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
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    J. Best Graham, Washington USA 01-23-16
    J. Best Graham, Washington USA 01-23-16 Member Since 2015
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    "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
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    Gretchen Hunter Greenfield, IN United States 01-10-16
    Gretchen Hunter Greenfield, IN United States 01-10-16 Member Since 2017
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    "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

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