All Eight Non-Fiction Books by Timothy Egan

Timothy Egan is an author and journalist. His books have won several notable awards including the National Book Award and the PNBA Award.

His writings focus on the history of the US including past presidents and significant events in our past. Top picks include The Worst Hard Time (about the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl), and The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America.

Books by Timothy Egan

1. The Good Rain: Across Time & Terrain in the Pacific Northwest

The Good Rain

Published: May 12th 1990

Pages: 254

Seattle-based journalist and author Tim Egan presents a compelling history of the Pacific Northwest, delving into both the region's natural wonders and its human-inflicted disasters. From enlightening accounts of the earliest inhabitants to harrowing tales of recent environmental devastation, The Good Rain paints a rich picture of life in one of America's most distinctive regions.

Egan had planned on following the travels of Theodore Winthrop, who was a 19th-century American writer and explorer, to show the differences that have occurred from his time until the writing of this book. Drawing on his own experiences and interviews with experts, Egan offers readers an in-depth look at everything from salmon fishing to mountaineering while also exploring such critical issues as deforestation, energy production, and climate change. Even though it was written decades ago, the result is an engaging and informative book that provides an illuminating perspective on the past, present, and future of the Northwest.

2. Breaking Blue

Breaking Blue

Published: April 1st 1996

Pages: 268

Set in the 1935s in Spokane, Washington, the police were notorious for being corrupt. They would take advantage of poor farmers and many homeless people who had lost everything but taking their money, food and even forcing them to have sex. More than that, the police would even commit murders knowing they would walk free since the "blue line" would not be crossed by other police who committed the same crimes.

This would have all been kept quiet and the history ignored, except for one man's work to uncover it. Tony Bamonte, a Spokane cop and ex-Vietnam vet, was writing his thesis on law enforcement history by the city's police force. He found a dying man's confession who exposed much of the crimes committed by the police and decided to dig as deeply as possible to find the truth. The events even included killing the town Marshall, George Conff. When writing this book, many of the police, and other people connected with these crimes, were still alive. Therefore, from many different viewpoints, you will get a firsthand account of what happened during this time and how the police were able to get away with it for so long.

3. Lasso the Wind: Away to the New West

Lasso the Wind

Published: August 25th 1998

Pages: 288

Egan hails from the West, and this book shows how deeply he loves it and cherishes the history of this beautiful land. In this collection of fourteen essays, each focusing on a different area or time in the history of the West, you will find ones that evoke humor, sadness, and every other emotion. What we found interesting is how Egan shows how the West has evolved from the early days up until the publishing of this book.

Some of the stories that he writes about include travels around New Mexico and Arizona. He goes through Colorado, Montana, and other states and finally arrives at California. During these travels, he gives us in-depth expositions on events such as the Mormons massacring a wagon train, the Native Americans being treated horribly, and how people such as Theodore Roosevelt saved Yosemite, the Lewis, and Clark exploration of the area, and so much more. He gives readers a profound look at how humans have changed this gorgeous land, sometimes for the better but often for the worst.

4. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

The Worst Hard Time

Published: December 14th 2005

Pages: 340

Timothy Egan's book, The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived, tells the devastating story of the Dust Bowl. This period in American history was marked by drought, dust storms, and displacement as people were forced to abandon their homes searching for food and work. The pain and suffering these people went through were horrendous, yet the spirit to fight on and conquer is impressive. The characters in this book focus on twelve families trying to survive these horrible times.

Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Egan brings to life the hardships faced by those who endured this tragic chapter in our nation's history. His book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the Dust Bowl. It gives a powerful view into the past,  present, and future, the state of climate change, and the destruction of so much of our planet's ecology. NOTE: There is a version that was printed in the U.K. titled "The Long Darkness: Surviving the Great American Dust Bowl" They are the same.

5. The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America

The Big Burn

Published: October 1st 2009

Pages: 324

In The Big Burn, Timothy Egan tells the dramatic story of the largest wildfire in American history and how it helped shape our nation. On August 20, 1910, a fire ignited in the remote reaches of the upper Mid-West. Because of a prolonged drought, it quickly swept across 3 million acres of forest, from the states of Idaho, Montana, and over to Washington state—an area larger than Connecticut. Dubbed the "Big Burn," this inferno became a watershed event for Teddy Roosevelt and the fledgling Forest Service.

With flames raging out of control, Roosevelt faced corrupt officials, championed innovative strategies for fighting fires, and mobilized thousands of men to battle the blaze. At stake was nothing less than the future of America's wilderness system and its citizens' relationship with nature. Because Roosevelt, and his chief forester Gifford Pinchot, realized how important these lands were and driven to save them. If not for these massive fires, which destroyed so much ground, Roosevelt and Pinchot wouldn't have been able to keep the land from corrupt politicians and ranchers. So, in a way, the land and forests needed to be destroyed to be saved.

6. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher

Published: October 9th 2012

Pages: 370

Edward Curtis was a man who could relate to any person from any level of society. Instead of just accepting his life and staying in one location, he traveled to the West. He then became known as a remarkable photographer and filmmaker whose 30-year project to document all Native American tribes is nothing short of epic. His photographs are filled with life and immortalize the cultures he documented before they were forever changed by modernization. Known primarily for his work as a photographer, Curtis would also build up a collection of over 10,000 audio recordings.

Timothy Egan's book, The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis tells the story of this fascinating artist and the lasting impact his work has had on our understanding of Native American culture. An example is his working to earn the trust of the Hopi Nation so he could photograph their sacred Snake Dance. Beautifully illustrated with many of Curtis' own photographs, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in photography, art, or North American history.

7. The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero

The Immortal Irishman

Published: March 1st 2016

Pages: 384

Today, almost no one has heard of Thomas Francis Meagher, even though he was such an essential character in the evolution of the United States of America. One of the reasons is that he was originally from Ireland and attempted to overthrow and kick out the British in the 1840s. Sadly, he lost and was sent to prison in Tasmania as punishment by the government. Amazingly he can survive the horrible conditions and is freed. This time, however, he showed up in New York City. Because of his battles against the British and Irish autonomy, he became quite well-known and respected by the locals.

During this time, the Civil War had started, and he led the little-known "Irish Brigade" for the Union Army and let them into many battles. Because the Irish Brigade was known for their unwillingness to give up any struggle, only two other bridges suffered more deaths. After the war ended, Meagher moved to Montana and somehow disappeared until Egan could decipher the clues and find the truth. The story is so unique that you'd think it brings up that classic saying, "Truth is stranger than fiction."

8. A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith

A Pilgrimage to Eternity

Published: October 15th 2019

Pages: 367

When Egan's mother was dying, she questioned whether Catholicism was true or is just a lie and if she'd ever seen her late husband again. Shaken to his core, Timothy Egan, who is a self-described "Catholic mutt," wanted to explore the roots of his faith and find out whether they still aligned with the Church's teachings. This meant traveling from his home in Seattle to Canterbury, England—the spiritual birthplace of Christianity—and then to Rome, the center of Catholicism, taking the over 1,000-mile Via Francigena. This includes the north of France, The Alps, tiny towns in Italy, and Rome.

Along the way, Egan met clergy members and laity who were grappling with the same questions about their beliefs. Some of the issues discussed include how "heretics" were treated by the Church if God was loving and caring. How would he allow the Holocaust, other massacres, and the systemic abuse and molestation of boys by Priests who supposedly are doing God's work, and more. He found a Church that is struggling to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world. But despite its many challenges, Egan remains hopeful about its future. No matter your religious or non-religious beliefs, this book is incredibly enlightening and entertaining at the same time.