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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  10,373 Ratings  ·  1,357 Reviews
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 the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in the blink of an eye. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2009 by Houghton Mifflin
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Will Byrnes
In 1910, the US Forestry Service was in its infancy. Teddy Roosevelt had put Gifford Pinchot in charge of the foundling agency. But robber barons and local commercial interests used all their resources to try to smother the infant in its crib, using their control of media to lobby against and lie about the Forest Service, and using their money to corrupt public officials in order to deny the Service the manpower and resources needed to actually protect the growing quantity of land held in public ...more
Melki
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
"There was no damn horse fast enough in the country to keep ahead of that fire."

All the world was on fire - flames overhead, flames to the left, flames to the right, the ground was alive.


One August day in 1910, the largest wildfire in US history swept across Washington, Idaho and Montana. The newly established and woefully underfunded Forestry Service struggled to combat the flames. Firefighters were recruited from nearby mining towns.

They came because it was a job, paying twenty-five cents an
...more
Darwin8u
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
“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: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America

description

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
...more
Marc
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding, highly readable history of the Great Fire of 1910 that burned 3.2 million acres in and around the Bitterroots National Forest in Idaho and Montana. The author moves deftly between (a) the immediacy of the fire and the experiences of people caught up in it, and (b) the powerful business and political interests whose actions both contributed to and were affected by the disaster.

Timothy Egan has done a tremendous amount of research, but what emerges most clearly (and powerfully) are t
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Over the long term, greed was the winner of this battle. Some things never change. We could use another Teddy Roosevelt here in the 21st century. Progressive, outspoken, tenacious, and so gifted with words.

This book is a lot more about politics than it is about The Big Burn. I agree with another reviewer who said the title is misleading, as the book is much more about Gifford Pinchot than Teddy Roosevelt. Also, it is never made clear how the fire "saved America." Still, there's much to learn of
...more
Jonathan
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jonathan by: Teddy Roosevelt's ghost
First off, let me start by saying that Teddy Roosevelt is the man. Anybody who cares about wilderness conservation or has visited a national park should be thankful that he was our president. Egan's book is not only about the great forest fire of 1910 (the titular big burn), but about Roosevelt's efforts to set aside land for future generations. There is plenty of backstory as Egan explores the kinship between TR and his appointed head of forestry Gifford Pinchot, a kinship which ultimately led ...more
Irene
Dec 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a highly readable account of the August 20, 1910 raging forest fire, the largest in U.S. history. Egan gives a detailed account of the efforts of the poorly funded, poorly trained rangers who risked their lives to contain the fire for a country who refused to compensate the families of the dead or pay the medical bills of the horrifically injured. Egan argues that the embattled backers of the nascent Forest Service was able to use this event to gain support and funding for this agency. H ...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
As indicated by the title, this book is about a wildfire that occurred in 1910 that burned about three million acres in northeast Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. The book also details some of the political issues focusing on Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot (the first Chief of the United States Forest Service from 1905 until his firing in 1910).

The fire provides the impending drama in the book's narrative because the reader doesn't know until the end of the book which of
...more
Randy
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Timothy Egan writes great books (as well as strong columns for the New York Times). He tricks us a bit with the sub-title. Although there is much about Teddy Roosevelt the main character of this tale is really Gifford Pinchot, the nation's first forester and father of the US Forrest Service and the man most responsible for saving what's left of America's forests. Another of the featured characters is Ed Pulaski, an original forest ranger who was so damaged by the The Big Burn that he never reall ...more
John
Oct 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Timothy Egan, who brilliantly brought the Dust Bowl era to life in "The Worst Hard Time," serves up more real-life gloom and doom with "The Big Burn."
This is the story of the worst wildfire in American history, the Great Fire of 1910, which burned 3 million acres, destroyed several towns, left 85 dead and many others disabled for life. It's also the story of the U.S. Forest Service, in its infancy and cruelly underfunded in 1910, and the valiant efforts of its rangers to fight the fire. And it's
...more
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Billerica Public ...: Big Burn on PBS 1 7 Aug 26, 2014 11:44AM  
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Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize winning author who resides in Seattle, Washington. He currently contributes opinion columns to The New York Times as the paper's Pacific Northwest correspondent.

In addition to his work with The New York Times, he has written six books, including The Good Rain, Breaking Blue, and Lasso the Wind.

Most recently he wrote "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that
...more
More about Timothy Egan...
“There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensitive to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune," Roosevelt said just before he became president.” 4 likes
“Though a degree from Yale was not required, Pinchot wanted his foresters to be able to write well, for the numerous reports that their enemies in Congress would be second-guessing.” 2 likes
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