Tag Archives: Book Reviews by Bill Dahl

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 Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

Having  lived in the Pacific Northwest the vast majority of my life, reading this book I realized just how ignorant I am about its history. Timothy Egan takes you on a grand tour of the region, using characters you have likely never heard of. That’s just one element of Egan’s magical gift.

I have read 5 Egan books in the last ten days – have one on the shelf and another in my cart on-line. That’ll mean I’ve read ALL of Egan’s books in two weeks. I read approximately 100 books a year. I have for decades. I have NEVER read consecutive volumes of one author’s books – one after another – until I ran into Egan.

Reading Egan is an adventure – a particularly satisfying and unique one. I have few favorite authors. Egan is now in my top 3. PERIOD. His work is just than damn good…better than good…it’s hard to put into words my appreciation for this man’s literary talent. A MASTER storyteller.

LOVED this book. BUY IT! – – – NOW!

Warning: After you read The Good Rain – you’ll be hooked on Timothy Egan…trust me…

 


 

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl – A Book Review by Bill Dahl

You can taste the gritty dirt in your mouth – and – I caught myself rubbing my eyes – as Timothy Egan spun this true tale of the history of the Dust Bowl.

Couldn’t put it down…a page burner. Burns your soul too.

Buy it! Read it! Grab a large glass of water as you will also become thirsty just reading this magnificent literary marvel.

Wear goggles and a dust mask…

Typical Egan – – – SPECTACULAR!!!

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!


 

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


 

Cattle Kingdom – The Hidden History of the Cowboy West by Christopher Knowlton – A Review by Bill Dahl

I have read extensively about the history of the American West. It’s a book like Cattle Kingdom that excites me about the fact that the myths that oftentimes inhabit our historical understanding  – can and will be displaced – and rewritten – when exquisitely talented authors like Christopher Knowlton take the reins.

Cattle Kingdom

The depth and breadth of the research that this work contains supports the authors thesis – confirming that history is subject to unearthing new and yet unrevealed discoveries – that can provide the sinew for a new understanding. Knowlton unequivocally demonstrates this unique  journalistic talent. Knowlton’s prose and storytelling ability are hypnotic and mesmerizing.

This is distinctly not a story that requires a preference for tales about the American West. The manner in which Knowlton weaves his story – and brings life to the characters and context – will draw readers who simply desire a really, really good book.

I must admit I had some reluctance deciding whether or not to purchase this volume. I overcame that and am really glad I did.

Many aspects of this book will bring tears to your eyes, ripping your heart apart. You’ll get angry and disgusted. The drama that Knowlton brings to life is addictive…it’s a page turning pleasure. The decimation of the Bison herds had me smelling the carnage that Knowlton described.

For those with an affinity for garnering a better understanding of the American cowboy, the influences in the development of the American West, the cattle industry, the origins of the nature of land ownership in the Western U.S. psyche, the influence of capital in the development of the American West, the beef industry, conservation, wildlife management – and – again – those who desire to be immersed in a truly fascinating true tale – well – this book is for you.

I honestly can’t imagine anyone selecting this book to devour and not coming away completely satisfied about their decision.

Frankly, I urge you to select Christopher Knowlton as your guide to the hidden history of the cowboy West. You’ll be delighted you did. Trust me…believe me…A PHENOMENAL BOOK!!!

YEEHAW!!!