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A book review...

I am in the middle of reading "The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt & the Fire That Saved America"" and I find it quite interesting. Basically it's a pretty well-researched narration of the horrible forest fires that burned in the summer of 1910 and the effect they had on the U.S. Forest Service that Roosevelt had just created to oversee the new national forests he had also just created. It also shaped the forest service's policy of pure prevention and aggressive suppression, which is still mostly the case to this day, and which is why most of the west is now a giant tinderbox. It's a bit eerie to read about the conditions that led to a fire that eventually burned 3 million acres, because every single one of those conditions has happened often here.

In the part of the book that discusses the rangers' attempts to recruit men to fight the fires, this passage really jumped out at me. It refers to the 1910 public sentiment towards immigrants:

"The (surge in population caused by immigrants) angered those who felt the nation was no longer recognizable, had lost its sense of identity. And they hated all these strange languages spoken in shops, schools, and churches."

Sound familiar? It's frightening to think that so little has changed in a century.

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