Tag Archives: Bill Dahl Book Reviews

Landscapes of Promise – The Oregon Story – 1800-1940 by William G. Robbins

An epic narrative of the Oregon Story from 1800-1940. Essential reading for those interested in the history of Oregon. William G. Robbins (retired – Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History – Oregon State University) is a gifted researcher, writer and historian par excellence.

An absolute essential volume for those interested in the American West and the formative years of Oregon. Fascinating reading. My book has highlighted passages like a two year old scribbling in the margins with your first colored pencil.

Epic. Phenomenal. Period.


 

The Immortal Irishman – The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero – by Timothy Egan – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

This is the sixth book I have read by Timothy Egan in the past three weeks. Up until this book, I was unable to identify a favorite. Enter –  The Immortal Irishman – now my favorite work of Mr. Egan.

The Immortal Irishman

From the days of Irish potato famine, to incarceration on the other side of the Earth in Tasmania, his daring escape from the island prison and relocation to New York City, to leading the Irish Brigade in the Civil War, his appointment as Governor of the Montana Territory, and the circumstances of his suspicious demise – this volume is a panoramic portrayal of the courageous Irish journey – and a man who led them throughout every twist and turn of his amazing life. Egan’s  mastery is on full display in this work. It is simply spellbinding.

This dramatic story simply begs to be replicated on cinema – perhaps – a mini-series vs. a two hour long film – the latter simply would not do justice with the life journey of Thomas Francis Meagher and/or the history of the Irish. I am thinking a multiple season mini-series akin to the recent “Hell on Wheels” production (2011-2016 – AMC) that chronicled the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the U.S.

Luscious history – PERIOD. Spectacular storytelling. Unequivocally unique. Honestly, words fail to express my deep appreciation for this epic contribution to history. The book also provides insights into the enduring attitudes that inhabit the current dialog regarding immigration in the U.S. – and how those attitudes have roots in the distant past of the American story.

If there was a literary rating of six stars (out of five) The Immortal Irishman – The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero by Timothy Egan is a worthy and distinguished winner.

Buy this book!!! Immerse yourself in this story. Learn. Grow. Enjoy! I most certainly did.

This volume now enjoys a prominent place in my home library – as ALL Egan’s works do.

SIX STARS – PERIOD!!!


 

Astoria – John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire – A Story of Wealth, Ambition and Survival by Peter Stark – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

Riveting. Incomparable suffering. Courage. Stamina. Determination.

Another in a superb series of the history of the Pacific Northwest. A terribly important tale that played a seminal role in the discoveries and exploration of this geographic region – and the lust for wealth that propelled those engaged in this endeavor.

The research here is fantastic. The writing is accessible for all audiences. Frankly, this story is shocking – in far too many ways to recount here. Simply a splendid story that I HIGHLY recommend.

The human drama – the sheer determination to survive when confronted with unimaginable hardship – is a seminal contribution of this work.

 


 

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

FIVE STAR REVIEW – With smoke from wildfires inundating the summer in the American West (again – 2017), this work is both timely and a historical treasure. In the late summer of 2017, with some 2 million acres currently in flames – it is difficult to wrap your head around the magnitude of the 1910 Big Burn that converged to torch a total of 3.2 million acres in the American West.

Nobody can weave history and story like Timothy Egan. PERIOD!

If you want to understand the genesis of the conservation movement in the U.S., the destructive capacity of wildfire, the history of the largest wildfire in U.S. history (3.2 million acres torched in 1910), the founding of the U.S. Forest Service, the conflict between business interests that those responsible for preserving public lands, the role of Gifford Pinchot and the leadership of Teddy Roosevelt – this book is for you.

This book is also about human behavior in the midst of impending disaster – both unsung heroes and the villains. The description of the dynamics of firestorm, what people did to save themselves and attempt to save their homes and villages, and the aftermath of this tragedy – this book is for you.

You cannot put this book down after you begin. Nobody but nobody can effectively treat a tragedy like this – in all its dimensions – except Timothy Egan.

There is so much in this book (set in 1910) that remains pertinent today: Funding for the U.S. Forest Service, wildfire prevention, conservation, environmentalism, management and suppression, politics, and the ongoing war of ideas.

Yet, it is Egan’s ability to bring to life the people who experienced this unimaginable, life altering and life ending episode that truly made this work magnificent – and resonate so profoundly with the reader.

After having visited Glacier National Park, Yellowstone and Grand Teton this summer, I cannot help but wonder, as one recent article asked: “Are we loving our National Parks to death?”

Egan’s treatment of the nuances and multi-dimensional facets of this story is simply spellbinding.

Just one of the BEST books I have EVER Devoured.

5 Star Review. PERIOD!


 

Undaunted Courage

Just one of THE BEST books one might ever read. I loved it. My only sorrow is the way it seemed to end too abruptly – with the tragic end of Lewis’s life. This is adventure writing and history at its best. I am now planning to explore the Bitteroot range. I just can’t find the words to express my deep appreciation for this work. Unequivocally outstanding!

Just wish the ending would have gone on for a few more chapters…the work and the journey -and the reader – deserved a bit more…


 

Lasso The Wind by Timothy Egan – A Review by Bill Dahl

I have a longstanding personal discipline when it comes to selecting books to read; every 5th book or so –  I require myself to read something published approximately 10+ years ago.  Thus, I encountered author Timothy Egan for the first time. Tonight, I just ordered three more of his books (I started my second Egan work last night)…

Lasso The Wind

I was absolutely – blown away – pardon the unintentional poor pun – by Lasso the Wind…I could NOT put it down. Spellbinding, literary talent beyond you wildest imagination, research to warp your mind, fantastic story-teller, unparalleled non-fiction and a contributor to American history the likes of which I have never encountered. Needless to say, I am now addicted to Egan’s work!

I typically read somewhere between 60-100 books a year. As of August 2017, Lasso The Wind is my unequivocal year to date favorite.

The way Egan weaves his storytelling and his research is – well – it’s simply unique and deeply engaging for the reader. JUST BUY THIS BOOK!!!

The history of the American West is widely and deeply inhabited by fictional myth. Egan eviscerates that B.S. in a way that leads one not only to a new, better informed understanding – but – leaves you inspired to continue to be curious about common understandings of history – and to examine the notion of “progress” that continues to lead humans to do unthinkable things to one another – and the planet we inhabit.

An absolute treasure…Trust me!!! Expect to read into the wee hours of the morning…I did. A book – and an ARTIST (author) for a broad audience. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!