Today in January Magazine’s non-fiction section, senior editor J. Kingston Pierce reviews The Big Burn by Timothy Egan. Says Pierce:
Americans, especially those of us living in the West, take our public lands for granted. They’ve always been places to appreciate from afar, or places to escape to and reinvigorate ourselves. But what would’ve happened had those public reserves -- those horizon-gobbling wilderness refuges and national forests -- not been saved for us to appreciate? That was a very real possibility back in the summer of 1910, when the largest and most destructive fire in U.S. history steamrollered through the timbered vastness of northeastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana. The “big burn,” as New York Times reporter Timothy Egan calls it in his new book, consumed 3 million acres (an area slightly smaller than Connecticut) in only two days, and killed more than 80 people. It was an environmental disaster. Yet Egan argues that it was also responsible for saving the U.S. Forest Service and turning the conservation movement into a nationwide cause.The full review is here.