I read this because I found his interview on public radio interesting. I think it is well written. Mr Egan must not have been a Boy Scout. He descibes two Scouts as two rangers in a picture with Pinchot, other than that I think he has his facts in order. I will recomend this book to my friends.
Have a look at my discussion post, PC Nonsense. I don't think Egan has his facts in order. I missed your point about the Boy Scouts, probably because I was already fuming by the time I got that far. I am glad you caught it. I would not recommend this book.
This is a great book. I am a descendent of survivors of the destruction of Wallace, Idaho in 1910. My maternal grandmother and great grandmother were refugees on the train that went to Spokane while my great grandfather stayed in Wallace to fight the fire, so I have more than a passing interest in this topic - I would not be here if they had not survived. Egan does an excellent job of taking a small corner of the country and placing it in its larger national context, from the few who would strip the land for their financial gain to the cowards who took the place of fleeing women and children to the men who gave their lives and how this impacted the national mood. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in environmental history, early 20th century America, and the history of the American West.
I teared up when I read about how pitifully the survivors were treated by an uncaring government. The book is well written and thorough. Without the 'set-up' about the creation of the forest service and the national forests can you really understand how/why such events unfolded as they did? I think not. I recommend the book to anyone...and everyone.
I got to meet Mr Egan today at the Tucson Festival of Books. He spoke very eloquently for 40 minutes about this book, giving the audience a historical background of TR, Gifford Pinchot and John Muir. He speaks as passionately as he writes and was most gracious to everyone standing in line for autographs. He remembered my review of his book and thanked me. I was very touched by that. I can't wait to read his next book he says is due out in two years.
The Big Burn is a good read, but I don't know how much we can rely in it for factual information. Just to give one example, on p.8 he states: "No living person in the United States had seen anything like the flames that roared through the Bitterroots in the summer of 1910..." He surly must know the Peshtigo forest fire just 40 years before in Wisconsin that killed over 2000 people and is usually considered the largest forest fire in American history. (see:http://www.peshtigofire.info/)
The book was awesome! Timothy Egan did an excellent job researching and writing this story. As I finished the book, I was more than disenchanted with Gifford Pinchot. As an elite millionaire, I couldn't understand why Pinchot did not set up a fund for the injured rangers out of his own funds? Ed Pulaski and others suffered for years unable to pay for their medical costs, but where was Gifford and all his wealth? Simply, I think of Gifford Pinchot now as a pompous, self-centered elitist on his own agenda. I think a few ten of thousands from his own wealth could have funded the entire Forest Service in those early days.