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March 2024: What We’re Reading - The Big Burn

This month we are reading The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan

Below is the book description

A dramatic account of the worst forest fire in American history by the author of the National Book Award–winning The Worst Hard Time.

On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forest of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men—college boys, day workers, immigrants from mining camps—to fight the fire. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.

Timothy Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched ranges against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force. Equally dramatic is the larger story he tells of outsize president Teddy Roosevelt ad his chief forester, Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by and preserved for every citizen.

“An important cautionary tale for these days that also reads like a classic adventure story.”—Washington Times

PBS has a corresponding film available here:


You're invited to participate in the IPWA Reading Group! We'll delve into the topics of wilderness, preservation, and conservation through reading, contemplation, and discussion. 

This group meets in-person in Boulder, Colorado every other month. The group is open to all (IPWA volunteers, supporters, and the public). We'll gain a deeper understanding of wilderness through fiction and non-fiction selections, including works by renowned authors such as Aldo Leopold, Wallace Stegner, Terry Tempest Williams, Timothy Egan, Edward Abbey, E.O. Wilson, and others.

Please consider joining us for an upcoming Reading Group gathering in Boulder, CO!

 March 21, 2024 - The Big Burn by Timothy Egan, 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Rayback Collective in Boulder, Colorado - RSVP here

May 16, 2024 - Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer, 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Rayback Collective in Boulder, Colorado - RSVP here

July 18, 2024 - On Trails: An Exploration by Robert Moor, 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at the Rayback Collective in Boulder, Colorado - RSVP here

These books are widely available at local libraries, bookstores (such as our local favorite, Boulder Bookstore), and online retailers.


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