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Why didn't I think to write this book? Everyone who has lived in western Montana and who hikes at all knows about the Big Burn. It took Tim Egan to tell the whole story and to wrap in TR and Gifford Pinchot and the whole history of the USFS. Excellent; highly recommend.

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Epic. I put off reading this book for about four months, just letting it collect dust on my desk. Staring at it in the middle of the night, while it screamed at me to read it. I was lazy, and I was involved with too many other unimportant things to pick up a book about forest fire. Besides? thought I, how cool could that be? Turns out, very cool.
The Big Burn was the biggest forest fire in the history of the United States. It engulfed millions of acres of forest and was roughly the size of Connecticut at it's peak. The author, Timothy Egan, writes passionately about the measures taken by Teddy Roosevelt and his forest supervisor Gifford Pinchot. After reading the book, it was apparant to me that T.R. probably had the biggest balls in history, whereas his successor, and portrayed villain of the book, William Taft probably had the smallest.
Personally, I could care less about living in a little house on the prairie, or the development of the West. However, I was taken away with the writing. The politics of the U.S. government and the Forest Service is actually interesting when you consider the massive debate between preservation and development; big business and homesteaders; corrupt senators and forest rangers etc.
Overall, a great book. Especially for the outdoorsy types. If not, you'll probably still like it. It's non-fictional, and although that may seem boring to some, Mr. Egan keeps it fast paced and has surely done his homework (just take a look at the refereces. It will make you wonder if this man has done anything else in his life other than research the fire).
 

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