Tag Archives: Book Reviews

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!!!


 

A Book Review of Timothy Egan’s – Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

It’s terribly difficult after finishing the 6th in a series of Timothy Egan’s books to declare a favorite. Yet,   Egan’s  Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis – is -well – it broke my heart.

The life and times of “fanatical” (self described) artists like Edward Curtis are rarely full of fulfilling, float you on air happiness.  Yet, his life had many interactions and endorsements by the day’s rich and famous (Teddy Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan to name two).

A man who attempted to capture the remnants of an ever encroaching genocide of the remaining inhabitants of the western tribes of Native Americans is a noble story. And noble is the way Egan tells it. Yet, it leaves you (the trajectory of Curtis’s life) unfulfilled…as the life stories of so many artists do.

How Egan finds these tales and has the uncanny ability to weave story in and around the real-life characters he portrays – is – well – a mysterious literary talent that I’m unsure if even he could describe it adequately. The book, story, prose, research and Egan’s writing just make you salivate for the next page.

This is an unequivocal FIVE STAR work (which I don’t attribute to most literature I read). It is a treasure – just as the life of Edward Curtis and his enduring work was/is. I am really glad I read this book. You will be too.

I am now on to my 7th Egan book in the past three weeks (which I NEVER do); The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became An American Hero (2016).

You simply CANNOT understand the American West without Reading Timothy Egan…PERIOD.

ENJOY!!!


 

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!!!

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…


 

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!!!