Book Review: The Big Burn

June Book Club

The Big Burn

by Timothy Egan

A beautiful examination of the West, Rocky Mountains, and the history of our country, The Big Burn by Timothy Egan ought to be required reading by public lands officials, land trust employees, and conservation-minded individuals across the American West.

Egan dives headlong into the bountiful history of out national forest system, shedding light on events rarely discussed and exploring personal details of powerful individuals that helped shape our country and our values.

His vivid descriptions of forest fires, interpersonal disputes, and political matters that affected populations far and wide make clear the complicated, often controversial history of our public lands. At times, especially during those scenes where entire forests are burning with a power not seen in generations, the reader can truly transport him or herself to that place, that time, with those people fighting not only for their neighbors and communities, but for their very lives.

The discussion we had was one of the most engaging in Diablo Trust Book Club history (not nearly as gripping as that of the forests of the Northwest), with two new readers joining us, one of whom is a retired Forest Service employee who worked alongside forest firefighters and has a unique perspective of fires on public lands than many of us do.

We highly recommend this book, and encourage anyone who is curious about how we came our current place in time with our forests, to read this book and continue researching at every turn.