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.
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.