There are many things in this book that should be part of general knowledge of history, like how the national forests were created, how the role of the forest service began, what type of person Gifford Pinchot was, and the life and character of Theodore Roosevelt. There were so many characters in The Big Burn that it was a bit of a struggle to keep them all straight, but this could be just me. Egan does a good job of personalizing history so that it comes alive. And, fortunately, he doesn't go into too much graphic detail on deaths caused by the fire. Also, fortunately, there is a map. Because the story of the wildfire is so dependent on location, it could have been a larger map with more detail and some color and to see the ridges and canyons on the map.