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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 Cover

ISBN13: 9780618968411
ISBN10: 0618968415
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: None
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

In this remarkable tale of the nation's largest forest fire — which burned more than three million acres in 1910 — Timothy Egan vividly narrates the heroic efforts to fight the blaze and the dramatic impact it had on the future of conservation.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 and the tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy in the land.

On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, 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 an eyeblink. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men — college boys, day-workers, immigrants from mining camps — to fight the fires. 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 against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force, through the eyes of the people who lived it. Equally dramatic, though, is the larger story he tells of outsized 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 public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen. The robber barons fought him and the rangers charged with protecting the reserves, but even as TR's national forests were smoldering they were saved: The heroism shown by those same rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though 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.

Review:

"Egan, National Book Award winner for The Worst Hard Time, spins a tremendous tale of Progressive-era America out of the 1910 blaze that burned across Montana, Idaho and Washington and put the fledgling U.S. Forest Service through a veritable trial by fire. Underfunded, understaffed, unsupported by Congress and President Taft and challenged by the robber barons that Taft's predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, had worked so hard to oppose, the Forest Service was caught unprepared for the immense challenge. Egan shuttles back and forth between the national stage of politics and the conflicting visions of the nation's future, and the personal stories of the men and women who fought and died in the fire: rangers, soldiers, immigrant miners imported from all over the country to help the firefighting effort, prostitutes, railroad engineers and dozens others whose stories are painstakingly recreated from scraps of letters, newspaper articles, firsthand testimony, and Forest Service records. Egan brings a touching humanity to this story of valor and cowardice in the face of a national catastrophe, paying respectful attention to Roosevelt's great dream of conservation and of an America 'for the little man.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Egan's tactile dramatization of the fire in Idaho and Montana compares favorably to the best of this genre...as he depicts the climactic moments of firefighters entrapment by flames." Booklist

Review:

"Historians will enjoy Egan's well-written book, featuring sparkling and dynamic descriptions of the land and people...while general readers will find his suspenseful account of the fires mesmerizing." Library Journal

Synopsis:

In The Worst Hard Time, Egan puts the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history. Now he performs the same alchemy with The Big Burn, detailing the largest-ever forest fire in America.

Synopsis:

A dramatic account of the worst forest fire in American history by the author of the best-selling and National Book Award-winning THE WORST HARD TIME. 

Synopsis:

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. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand 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 against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of outsized 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 public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

About the Author

Timothy Egan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of five books, most recently The Worst Hard Time, which won a National Book Award for nonfiction. He writes a weekly column, Outposts, for the New York Times and lives in Seattle, Washington.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS

Prologue: A Fire at the End of the World 1

 
PART I

IN ON THE CREATION

 1. “A Peculiar Intimacy” 17

 2. Roost of the Robber Barons 39

 3. The Great Crusade 53

 4. Deadwood Days 73

 5. Showdown 86

 
PART II

WHAT THEY LOST

 6. Summer of Smoke 105

 7. Men, Men, Men! 116

 8. Spaghetti Westerners 129

 9. Firestorms Eve 141

 10. Blowup 154

 11. The Lost Day 158

 12. The Lost Night 172

 13. Towns Afire 187

 14. To Save a Town 201

 15. The Missing 211

 16. The Living and the Dead 227

 
PART III

WHAT THEY SAVED

 17. Fallout 239

 18. One for the Boys 249

 19. Ashes 263

 
Notes on Sources 287

Acknowledgments 307

Index 309

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Kimberly Uyyek, September 26, 2011 (view all comments by Kimberly Uyyek)
Timothy Egan does it again. The Big Burn is a non-fiction book that reads like a novel. The characters in both Washingtons (DC and the state) are extremely vivid. It also taught me somethings about the history of the US and the Pacific Northwest.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Jessica Dahl, January 15, 2010 (view all comments by Jessica Dahl)
Who living in the Pacific Northwest could imagine our beautiful states without National/State Forest designations, trails, parks, protected wildlife, and camping fees? The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America is an incredible biography of how and why Teddy Roosevelt set up the forestry service with his close advisor and friend Gifford Pinchot (who the Mt. St. Helen's national Park was named after) and the mismanagement and corruption of the forestry division by William Taft (a President I didn't know anything about before reading this book) after Roosevelt's terms were up that effected towns across the Northwest, families, big and small business, and American politics.

If you want a good look at an era that isn't typically taught in US History classes and an idea of the Pacific Northwest's rich history, I highly recommend this detailed look at one event that shaped future forestry and wildfire practices, big business dealings, and what led to America's most beautiful region (in my opinion), The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America is a book that you won't be able to put down.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
lindsey b , January 12, 2010 (view all comments by lindsey b )
As good as any fiction or nonfiction I have read in recent memory. There are so many interesting themes in this book that continue today. I think the thing that made this book most interesting were the personal details included. I have camped and traveled and vacationed in and around the areas featured in the book - I remember some of the names and wondering why the cities were named the way they were - now I wanna go back and see them and reread the book. SUCH a good book. If you read and liked The Worst Hard Time, I think you won't be disappointed here. I think The Big Burn is even better.
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(1 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 4 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618968411
Subtitle:
Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
Author:
Egan, Timothy
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Subject:
United States - General
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Subject:
Natural Disasters
Subject:
Presidents -- United States.
Subject:
United States History.
Subject:
United States - 20th Century (1900-1945)
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20100907
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 pages of b/w photos
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in
Age Level:
from 14

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Related Subjects


History and Social Science » Americana » Forestry and National Parks
History and Social Science » Americana » National Parks and Waterways
History and Social Science » Americana » Rivers Lakes Waterways and Mountains
History and Social Science » Pacific Northwest » General
History and Social Science » Sale Books
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Roosevelt, Theodore
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) - English 9780618968411 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In this remarkable tale of the nation's largest forest fire — which burned more than three million acres in 1910 — Timothy Egan vividly narrates the heroic efforts to fight the blaze and the dramatic impact it had on the future of conservation.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Egan, National Book Award winner for The Worst Hard Time, spins a tremendous tale of Progressive-era America out of the 1910 blaze that burned across Montana, Idaho and Washington and put the fledgling U.S. Forest Service through a veritable trial by fire. Underfunded, understaffed, unsupported by Congress and President Taft and challenged by the robber barons that Taft's predecessor, Theodore Roosevelt, had worked so hard to oppose, the Forest Service was caught unprepared for the immense challenge. Egan shuttles back and forth between the national stage of politics and the conflicting visions of the nation's future, and the personal stories of the men and women who fought and died in the fire: rangers, soldiers, immigrant miners imported from all over the country to help the firefighting effort, prostitutes, railroad engineers and dozens others whose stories are painstakingly recreated from scraps of letters, newspaper articles, firsthand testimony, and Forest Service records. Egan brings a touching humanity to this story of valor and cowardice in the face of a national catastrophe, paying respectful attention to Roosevelt's great dream of conservation and of an America 'for the little man.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Egan's tactile dramatization of the fire in Idaho and Montana compares favorably to the best of this genre...as he depicts the climactic moments of firefighters entrapment by flames."
"Review" by , "Historians will enjoy Egan's well-written book, featuring sparkling and dynamic descriptions of the land and people...while general readers will find his suspenseful account of the fires mesmerizing."
"Synopsis" by , In The Worst Hard Time, Egan puts the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history. Now he performs the same alchemy with The Big Burn, detailing the largest-ever forest fire in America.
"Synopsis" by ,
A dramatic account of the worst forest fire in American history by the author of the best-selling and National Book Award-winning THE WORST HARD TIME. 
"Synopsis" by ,
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. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand 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 against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of outsized 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 public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

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