The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
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,... show more
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 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. The robber barons fought Roosevelt and Pinchot’s rangers, but the Big Burn saved the forests even as it destroyed them: the heroism shown by the rangers turned public opinion permanently in their favor and became the creation myth that drove the Forest Service, with consequences still felt in the way our national lands are protected — or not — today.
Publish date: October 19th 2009
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages no: 336
Edition language: English
This was, surprisingly, a very good book. I didn't think I would have much interest in an isolated event such as the great fire of 1910 in the West, but Timothy Egan really knows how to tell a story. The title names Teddy Roosevelt, but to be clear, he is not a main feature of the book by any stre...
The Big Burn by Timothy Egan was a required text for my environmental politics class. What I liked about this book was that it gave an insight to the creation of the National Parks, and before I read this book I thought the National Parks were one of the easiest policies to put into place. Not at al...
Should be Gifford Pinchot instead of TR. Another great book by Timothy Egan. Great history, great insight, great research. Well done!
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 anoth...
UPDATED July 5, 2012 - sees link at bottomIn 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 co...