Timothy Egan and 'The Big Burn'

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If you go to any national park or protected wilderness in the U.S. today, you will find the friendly, heroic figure of the forest ranger: a uniformed caretaker of natural splendor, and watcher for forest fires. Oftentimes, these forest heroes go unnoticed, but in his new book, Timothy Egan writes about how forest rangers banded together, along with President Theodore Roosevelt, to control a blazing inferno.

We talk with Pulizer Prize–winning author Timothy Egan about his new book, "The Big Burn," on the huge forest fire back in 1910 that blazed through forests in Washington, Idaho and Montana.

“They believed that American democracy could not be complete without the public land part of it. That Jefferson gave us all, 'all men are created equal,' the philosophical push, but the second half of it was the public lands endowment. The little guy…owns a piece of this big chunk of what was left over from the Louisiana Purchase. That was to counter the Gilded Age.”
—Pulizer Prize-winning author Timothy Egan On the public sentiment towards publicly-owned land in 1910 and how Americans changed the way they looked at land