In "The Worst Hard Time," Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history. Now he performs the same alchemy with this story of the largest-ever forest fire in America, painting a moving portrait of the people who lived through the disaster.In "The Worst Hard Time," Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history. Now he performs the same alchemy with this story of the largest-ever forest fire in America, painting a moving portrait of the people who lived through the disaster.Read Less
An interesting, exciting read. Though this work is about the major forest fire of 1910, it is also the story of the beginnings of the conservation movement, such as it is, in the US. Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot were instrumental in setting aside millions of acres of forest despite corrupt politicians and robber barons. The politicians and robber barons attempted to starve the forest service to death but then came the big burn and the heroic stories that came out of it. The forest service received more funding to build roads and lookouts to better respond to forest fires. However, the ending of this work is somewhat depressing because the national forests were opened to robber barons who denuded the slopes of trees with their clear-cutting operations using the roads built by taxpayer money. Though now I think the major lumber companies have seen the light because they need trees and clear cutting without reforestation would mean they would lose their resource.
Publishers Weekly, 2009-08-03 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." (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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