2017 iBAM! Literature Awardee
It's not many authors that have a quote on one of their books by none other than Walter Cronkite!
It is our pleasure to announce that Timothy Egan is our 2017 iBAM! Awardee for Literature, and will be on hand to receive his award at the iBAM! Gala Awards Dinner, October 27th in the Irish American Heritage Center in the Erin Room. Come out and honor him if you can!
Timothy Egan comes from a family of nine, from a mother who loved books and a father with the Irish gift of finding joy in small things. He worked on a farm, in a factory, and at a fast-food outlet while muddling through nearly seven on-and-off years of college.
He is the author of eight books. His most recent book, THE IMMORTAL IRISHMAN, was a New York Times bestseller. His book on Edward Curtis, SHORT NIGHTS OF THE SHADOW CATCHER, was awarded the Carnegie Award for best nonfiction. His account of the Dust Bowl, THE WORST HARD TIME, won the 2006 National Book Award, considered one of the nation’s highest literary honors, and he was featured prominently in the 2012 Ken Burns film on the Dust Bowl.
A lifelong journalist, Mr. Egan now writes an online opinion column for The New York Times. Prior to that, Mr. Egan worked as a national correspondent for the Times, roaming the West. As a Times correspondent, he shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 with a team of reporters for its series, “How Race is Lived in America.”
A graduate of the University of Washington, Mr. Egan also holds honorary doctorates from Whitman College, Willamette University, Lewis and Clark College, and Western Washington University. A third-generation Westerner and father of two, Mr. Egan lives in Seattle, which honored him once with the Keys to the City – alas, no exemption from parking tickets.
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The Immortal Irishman
(This great book is being made into a movie by John Cusack)
From the National Book Award–winning and best-selling author Timothy Egan comes the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishman in nineteenth-century America.
The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America.
Meagher’s rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War — Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher’s dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule.
The hero's last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier. His death has long been a mystery to which Egan brings haunting, colorful new evidence.
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher:
The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis
“A vivid exploration of one man's lifelong obsession with an idea . . . Egan’s spirited biography might just bring [Curtis] the recognition that eluded him in life.” — Washington Post
Edward Curtis was charismatic, handsome, a passionate mountaineer, and a famous portrait photographer, the Annie Leibovitz of his time. He moved in rarefied circles, a friend to presidents, vaudeville stars, leading thinkers. But when he was thirty-two years old, in 1900, he gave it all up to pursue his Great Idea: to capture on film the continent’s original inhabitants before the old ways disappeared.
Curtis spent the next three decades documenting the stories and rituals of more than eighty North American tribes. It took tremendous perseverance — ten years alone to persuade the Hopi to allow him to observe their Snake Dance ceremony. And the undertaking changed him profoundly, from detached observer to outraged advocate. Curtis would amass more than 40,000 photographs and 10,000 audio recordings, and he is credited with making the first narrative documentary film. In the process, the charming rogue with the grade school education created the most definitive archive of the American Indian.
“A darn good yarn. Egan is a muscular storyteller and his book is a rollicking page-turner with a colorfully drawn hero.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
"A riveting biography of an American original."
– Boston Globe
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
In THE WORST HARD TIME, Timothy Egan put the environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl at the center of a rich history, told through characters he brought to indelible life. Now he performs the same alchemy with the Big Burn, the largest-ever forest fire in America and the tragedy that cemented Teddy Roosevelt's legacy in the land.
On the afternoon of August 20, 1910, a battering ram of wind moved through the drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, Montana, whipping the hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor into a roaring inferno that jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in an eyeblink. Forest rangers had assembled nearly ten thousand men -- college boys, day-workers, immigrants from mining camps -- to fight the fires. But no living person had seen anything like those flames, and neither the rangers nor anyone else knew how to subdue them.
Egan narrates the struggles of the overmatched rangers against the implacable fire with unstoppable dramatic force, through the eyes of the people who lived it. Equally dramatic, though, is the larger story he tells of outsized president Teddy Roosevelt and his chief forester Gifford Pinchot. Pioneering the notion of conservation, Roosevelt and Pinchot did nothing less than create the idea of public land as our national treasure, owned by every citizen. The robber barons fought him and the rangers charged with protecting the reserves, but even as TR's national forests were smoldering they were saved: The heroism shown by those same rangers turned public opinion permanently in favor of the forests, though it changed the mission of the forest service with consequences felt in the fires of today.
THE BIG BURN tells an epic story, paints a moving portrait of the people who lived it, and offers a critical cautionary tale for our time.
The Worst Hard Time
is an epic story of blind hope and endurance almost beyond belief; it is also, as Tim Egan has told it, a riveting tale of bumptious charlatans, conmen, and tricksters, environmental arrogance and hubris, political chicanery, and a ruinous ignorance of nature's ways. Egan has reached across the generations and brought us the people who played out the drama in this devastated land, and uses their voices to tell the story as well as it could ever be told." — Marq de Villiers, author of Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource
The dust storms that terrorized America's High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before or since, and the stories of the people that held on have never been fully told. Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan follows a half-dozen families and their communities through the rise and fall of the region, going from sod homes to new framed houses to huddling in basements with the windows sealed by damp sheets in a futile effort to keep the dust out. He follows their desperate attempts to carry on through blinding black blizzards, crop failure, and the deaths of loved ones. Drawing on the voices of those who stayed and survived—those who, now in their eighties and nineties, will soon carry their memories to the grave—Egan tells a story of endurance and heroism against the backdrop of the Great Depression.
As only great history can, Egan's book captures the very voice of the times: its grit, pathos, and abiding courage. Combining the human drama of Isaac's Storm with the sweep of The American People in the Great Depression, The Worst Hard Time is a lasting and important work of American history.
Timothy Egan is a national enterprise reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of four books and the recipient of several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
“As one who, as a young reporter, survived and reported on the great Dust Bowl disaster, I recommend this book as a dramatic, exciting, and accurate account of that incredible and deadly phenomenon. This is can’t-put-it-down history.”
"The Worst Hard Time is wonderful: ribbed like surf, and battering us with a national epic that ranks second only to the Revolution and the Civil War. Egan knows this and convincingly claims recognition for his subject—as we as a country finally accomplished, first with Lewis and Clark, and then for 'the greatest generation,' many of whose members of course were also survivors of the hardships of the Great Depression. This is a banner, heartfelt but informative book, full of energy, research, and compassion."
—Edward Hoagland, author of Compass Points: How I Lived
"Here's a terrific true story—who could put it down? Egan humanizes Dust Bowl history by telling the vivid stories of the families who stayed behind. One loves the people and admires Egan's vigor and sympathy."
—Annie Dillard, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
"The American West got lucky when Tim Egan focused his acute powers of observation on its past and present. Egan's remarkable combination of clear analysis and warm empathy anchors his portrait of the women and men who held on to their places—and held on to their souls—through the nearly unimaginable miseries of the Dust Bowl. This book provides the finest mental exercise for people wanting to deepen, broaden, and strengthen their thinking about the relationship of human beings to this earth."
—Patricia N. Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West
The Winemaker's Daughter
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times national correspondent Timothy Egan turns to fiction with The Winemaker's Daughter, a lyrical and gripping novel about the harsh realities and ecological challenges of turning water into wine.
When Brunella Cartolano visits her father on the family vineyard in the basin of the Cascade Mountains, she's shocked by the devastation caused by a four-year drought. Passionate about the Pacific Northwest ecology, Brunella, a cultural impact analyst, is embroiled in a battle to save the Seattle waterfront from redevelopment and to preserve a fisherman's livelihood. But when a tragedy among fire-jumpers results from a failure of the water supply–her brother Niccolo is among those lost--Brunella finds herself with another mission: to find out who is sabotaging the area's water supply. Joining forces with a Native American Forest Ranger, she discovers deep rifts rooted in the region's complicated history, and tries to save her father's vineyard from drying up for good . . . even as violence and corruption erupt around her.
Lasso The Wind
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Winner of the Mountains and Plains Book Seller's Association Award
"Sprawling in scope. . . . Mr. Egan uses the past powerfully to explain and give dimension to the present."
--The New York Times
"Fine reportage . . . honed and polished until it reads more like literature than journalism."
--Los Angeles Times
"They have tried to tame it, shave it, fence it, cut it, dam it, drain it, nuke it, poison it, pave it, and subdivide it," writes Timothy Egan of the West; still, "this region's hold on the American character has never seemed stronger." In this colorful and revealing journey through the eleven states west of the 100th meridian, Egan, a third-generation westerner, evokes a lovely and troubled country where land is religion and the holy war between preservers and possessors never ends.
Egan leads us on an unconventional, freewheeling tour: from America's oldest continuously inhabited community, the Ancoma Pueblo in New Mexico, to the high kitsch of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where London Bridge has been painstakingly rebuilt stone by stone; from the fragile beauty of Idaho's Bitterroot Range to the gross excess of Las Vegas, a city built as though in defiance of its arid environment. In a unique blend of travel writing, historical reflection, and passionate polemic, Egan has produced a moving study of the West: how it became what it is, and where it is going.
"The writing is simply wonderful. From the opening paragraph, Egan seduces the reader. . . . Entertaining, thought provoking."
--The Arizona Daily Star Weekly
"A western breeziness and love of open spaces shines through Lasso the Wind. . . . The writing is simple and evocative."
n 1935, the Spokane police regularly extorted sex, food, and money from the reluctant hobos (many of them displaced farmers who had fled the midwestern dust bowls), robbed dairies, and engaged in all manner of nefarious crimes, including murder. This history was suppressed until 1989, when former logger, Vietnam vet, and Spokane cop Tony Bamonte discovered a strange 1955 deathbed confession while researching a thesis on local law enforcement history. Bamonte began to probe what had every appearance of widespread police crime and a massive cover-up whose highlight was the unsolved murder of Town Marshall George Conff. The fact that many of those involved, now in their 80s and 90s, were still alive made it imperative that Bamonte unravel this mystery. The result is Breaking Blue, a white-knuckle ride through institutional corruption and cover-up that vividly documents Depression-era Spokane and an extraordinary case that few believed would ever be brought to light.
The Good Rain
A fantastic book! Timothy Egan describes his journeys in the Pacific Northwest through visits to salmon fisheries, redwood forests and the manicured English gardens of Vancouver. Here is a blend of history, anthropology and politics.
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2017 iBAM! Literature Awardee