Great Book! The book has been around a long time, but a true story never fades. On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the United States Forest Service elite airborne firefighters, The Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness (Mann Gulch). In less then an hour after their jump, all but three of the men were dead or mortally burned. This story was written 40 years after the fact, because the fire still haunted the author, Norman Maclean. I love this book.
As a veteran firefighter, I can identify with the feelings of fear and loss brought forth in this book. It is a documentary of lives lost in the infamous Mann Gulch Fire. For the uninitiated, Maclean shows you the life of the firefighter, what they do from day to day, how they think when things get scary, and maybe what some last thoughts were when things went beyond what any human being can be expecte to control. Haunting.
The Mann Creek fire in a canyon in Montana. Most of us have never heard of it, but Norman Maclean, author of "A River Runs Through It", takes us step by step of how a small, innocuous forest fire can turn into a deadly blowup and kill almost the entire firefighting crew. Maclean is older and has a difficult time climbing up and down the hills that he would have run easily when he was a younger fire fighter. It's a true mystery, which he refuses to give up solving. He died before this book was finished, but the publishers did an excellent job of finishing what he started. This book shows us how the current firefighting rules and conditions of present day came about. He shows us the lives of dead men, the original "hotshots" who parachuted into fires, who were so young and thought they were invincible. Excellent reading.
I've read it twice and never tire of his beautiful prose and well written story.
Thorough exploration of the true story of several smoke jumpers who died fighting a forest fire in Montana. Includes some actual photographs.
Story of the 1949 Mann Gulch tragedy when 13 Smokejumpers lost their lives fighting a forest fire. Fascinating and educational book on wildfires, simply written, but compelling recounting of the event.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
On August 5, 1949, a crew of 15 Smokejumpers, the U.S. Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Less than two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or fatally burned. Exactly what happened in Mann Gulch that day has been obscured by years of grief and controversy. Now a master storyteller finally gives the Mann Gulch fire its due as tragedy.
Norman Maclean first saw the Mann Gulch fire as it still burned in mid-August 1949, and even then he knew he would one day become a part of its story. Maclean spent the last 14 years of his life studying and reliving the fire. Young Men & Fire is the result, a story of Montana, of the ways of wildfires, firefighters, and fire scientists, and especially of a crew, young and proud, who "hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy." This tale is also Maclean's own, the story of a writer obsessed by a strange and human horror, unable to let the truth die with these young men, searching for the last - and lasting - word. Nature's violence collides with human fallibility in Young Men & Fire. The Smokejumpers in Mann Gulch are trapped by a "blowup," a deadly explosion of flame and wind rarely encountered and little understood at the time. Only seconds ahead of the approaching firestorm, the foreman, R. Wagner Dodge, throws himself into the ashes of an "escape fire " - and survives as his confused men run, their last moments obscured by smoke. The parents of the dead cry murder, charging that the foreman's fire killed their boys. Years later, Maclean returns to the scene with two of the survivors and pursues the mysteries that Mann Gulch has kept hidden since 1949. From the words of witnesses, the evidence of history, and the research of fire scientists, Maclean at last assembles the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy.
FROM THE CRITICS
New York Times Book Review
A magnificent drama of writing, a tragedy that pays tribute to the dead and offers rescue to the living...
New York Times Books of the Century
...[The book] has searing power....His description of the conlagration terrifies, but it is his...effort to turn the story of the 13 men into tragedy, that makes the book a classic.
On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the U.S. Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Less than an hour after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or mortally burned. Haunted by these deaths for forty years, Norman Maclean puts back together the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy. "A magnificent drama of writing, a tragedy that pays tribute to the dead and offers rescue to the living . . . "
Great book by Norman MacLean. He wrote A River Runs through It and started the University of Chicago Press. This book is about the Mann Gulch tradegy. In 1949 a crew of 15 of the US Forest Service elite airborne firefighters jumped into a forest fire in the Montana Wilderness. All but 3 were killed. A= book.
The Smoke Jumpers of the United States Forest Service.........by the author of A River Runs Through It.
A great book by one of my favorite writers, ever.
A true story of the Mann Gulch Fire.
On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen Smokejumpers, the United States Forest Services elite airborne firefighter's, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Less than two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or fatally burned. Exactly what happened in Mann Gulch that day has been obscurred by years of grief and controversy. Now a master astoryteller finally gives the Mann Gulch fire its due as tragedy.
I originally ordered this book for my husband, a forest firefighter (not smokejumper) in his youth. I was captivated by not only the tragic story of the 1949 Mann Gulch fire, and Maclean's efforts to learn what were the physical causes of its ferocity, but his narrative style that casts it as a Homeric epic. Once you get the flick that his unusual writing style is to bring this simple tragedy to a greater level, and recalling his background as woodsman and literature professor, it all makes sense.
I read this book almost annually. I'm currently listening to it on audio-book (CD) read by his son. I'm reminded again how the language really elevates this tale to something greater.
I'm haunted by the tale and the telling. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Norman Maclean along with several experts (and survivors) re-examines the Mann Gulch tragedy, where 13 young men died suddenly and unexpectedly. With experience and modern methods, he comes to some new conclusions about what went wrong. Finding himself drawn ever closer to the men who lived and died, he finishes with a philosophical and theological summary of the day's events with some of his most beautiful writing.