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September 12, 2020
THE ALARMING PHOTOGRAPHS and videos of the wildfires burning in our western states are jaw-dropping and the stories accompanying them are heart-wrenching. In the summer of 1965 10,000 teen girls gathered in Farragut, Idaho for the Girl Scout Roundup, my sister-in-law and I among them. Besides camping, trading potlatches and attending joyous campfires, we planted trees, thousands of them, tiny evergreen seedlings. Today, 55 years later, are those trees still living, are they threatened? I searched online and discovered that fires are burning in that region. It isn't the first time.
In August of 1910 rangers scrambled to gather 10,000 men to fight the biggest wildfire on record. I remember reading THE BIG BURN: TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND THE FIRE THAT SAVED AMERICA with astonishment. I could not put Timothy Egan’s book down. The heroic firefighting efforts were epic. Three million acres in Idaho, Montana, Washington and British Columbia were destroyed - about the size of Connecticut. Sound familiar?
Thirty-nine years later a devastating Montana fire inspired Norman MacLean to write YOUNG MEN AND FIRE, the powerful story of a crew of fifteen smokejumpers and the Man Gulch Fire that took thirteen of their lives. I remember feeling as though I was living the experience while reading this book, which has become a Western classic.
I have not yet read THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers, but thinking about the history of trees and fire brought it to mind. The citation for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction includes this: “An ingeniously structured narrative that branches and canopies like the trees at the core of the story whose wonder and connectivity echo those of humans living amongst them.”
---Written by Book Guide Wendy
I'll never forget when the GRANITE MOUNTAIN FIRE raged in Arizona. Although we lived many many miles away, social media kept us plugged in when the fire caused friends of ours to evacuate their home. The 20 men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots saved it, and they were able to thank them in person. The Hotshots were loyal to one another and dedicated to the tough job they had, this band of brothers continued to fight this blaze. Only one of the twenty survived. A page turning, riveting account, THE FIRE LINE:THE STORY OF THE GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS is the winner of the 2017 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book, and Spur Award Finalist for Best Western Contemporary Nonfiction.
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----Written by Book Guide Bobbi Jean
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