Essential for any Green bookshelf.

THE BIG BURN

TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND THE FIRE THAT SAVED AMERICA

The epic forest fire of 1910 and how it kept massive business interests from strangling the nascent American conservation movement.

New York Times columnist and National Book Award winner Egan (The Worst Hard Times: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, 2005, etc.) dissects the nation’s worst-ever forest fire and its aftermath. Erupting over two August days in the tinder-dry Bitterroot Mountains along the Idaho-Montana border, it consumed three million woodland acres, wiped out several railroad-junction towns and killed nearly 100 people, most of them temporary fire fighters and the U.S. Forest Service rangers who had hired them. Egan focuses his probing tale on two men, Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, who had met two decades before, finding they had wealthy families and a deep love of the outdoors in common. A third, Sierra Club founder John Muir, was a mentor and inspiration to both, but later broke away due to differences of opinion on policy matters. In the author’s accounting, the idea of conservation, as now generally accepted, was essentially launched from the relationship between Roosevelt and Pinchot. Roosevelt proved crucial in many endeavors. He set aside, as Egan writes, “an area roughly the size of France” as public-domain national forest in the West and appointed Pinchot as founding director of the Forest Service, which was then an agency with no authority that faced nearly total public antipathy, including that of the powerful timber and railroad barons. The “Big Burn,” however, during which undermanned ranks of rangers were dying in the last line of defense, drastically changed public sentiment.

Essential for any Green bookshelf.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-96841-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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