The Big Burn, Timothy Egan
This book tells the story of the formation of the Forest Service by Teddy Roosevelt and its first real test in a massive 1910 wildfire which destroyed much of Idaho and Montana. My dad recommended the book to me quite a while ago, but it sat quietly on my long "to read" list. However, once I visited the Grand Canyon and saw the massive amount of work completed thanks to Roosevelt's work, The Big Burn caught my eye again, and I'm glad it did.
The beginning is a little slow as Egan relates the circumstances which caused Teddy Roosevelt to begin championing the cause of conservation. It is mind boggling to imagine that were it not for him we could have strip mined the Grand Canyon and destroyed the forests in the Pacific Northwest. The pace picks up once the focus narrows on the dry summer of 1910 and the specific rangers, woefully short of resources, who were left to battle the three million acre blaze. The stories of their bravery and miraculous survival are as amazing as the destruction and death are disturbing. If you can make it through the first third, the story is well worth the read.
Borrowed from the library