Essential for any Green bookshelf.

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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