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Young Men and Fire | [Norman Maclean]

Young Men and Fire

Norman MacLean spent the last 14 years of his life determined to sift through grief and controversy in search of the truth behind the Mann Gulch tragedy, one of the worst disasters in the history of the Forest Service. Young Men and Fire is the culmination of his investigations. It is a story about honor, death, compassion, and the human spirit.
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Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle, Nonfiction, 1993

On August 5, 1949, a crew of 15 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 one hour later, all but three were dead or fatally burned in a "blowup," an explosive 2,000-degree firestorm 300 feet tall. Norman MacLean spent the last 14 years of his life determined to sift through grief and controversy in search of the truth behind the Mann Gulch tragedy, one of the worst disasters in the history of the Forest Service. Young Men and Fire is the culmination of his investigations. It is a story about honor, death, compassion, and the human spirit.

©1992 The University of Chicago; (P)1993 HighBridge Company; ©2000 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"[MacLean]...remains true to the power of his own language and his own heart." (New York Times Book Review)
"A sort of pilgrimage - sometimes poetic, often earthy, and full of asides that connect the fire to experiences we all share." (Audubon)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (77 )
5 star
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4.1 (34 )
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Story
3.9 (34 )
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3 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Crazy CT Marmot 06-12-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great read, very good listen!!"
    Would you listen to Young Men and Fire again? Why?

    Yes, this is a beautiful book about firefighting, smokejumpers, and the tragedy of the Mann Gulch fire. The recording does a good job of bringing out the highest quality of nonfictional "story" telling done by the author Norman Maclean.


    What other book might you compare Young Men and Fire to and why?

    A River Runs Through It, is by the same author and about the same time period and of growing up in Montana.


    Which character – as performed by John MacLean – was your favorite?

    I don't think that the book was looking to portray any of the characters as favorites. The book was looking to tell of what happened when a group of the nations elite firefighters encountered the Mann Gulch fire in 1949, and to show the strength of character of these brave young men.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, it is a book that should be read first. After reading the book, then listening to the audio version helps to recall the harsh, rugged beauty of the story.


    Any additional comments?

    Robert Redford did a great job in making A River Runs Through It into a movie. This story and the men that lost their life on Mann Gulch deserve the same.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eric SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States 08-29-13
    eric SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States 08-29-13
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    "Warning! This recording is abridged."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I own and have read this book. This recording is abridged. The performance is fine and the essential story is present, but it is not the entire, unabridged story.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie Norris Maine 01-25-06
    Natalie Norris Maine 01-25-06 Member Since 2011

    mainecoast mama

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    "Facinating story of tragedy and detective work"

    I found this book by way of the song "Cold Missouri Waters" by James Keelaghan. This is a ballad told in the voice of Dodge, the foreman. It brings tears to my eyes each time. I recommend this as well.

    Young Men and Fire is a story of tregedy in the Greek sense. MacLean tells a great story and shows he is a master of words as well. He is a stickler for details and pacing. His son reads clearly and effectively - and the sound quality of the recording is superb. My only gripe is that I felt the last 45 minutes could have been condensed. Otherwise, an excellent read/listen!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RnD Sausalito, CA 04-05-03
    RnD Sausalito, CA 04-05-03 Listener Since 2002
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    "A stunning (and true) tale!"

    I read the book, and found it to be beautiful and compelling. It's also a very informative tale. You'll learn how fires are fought, and how men are lost fighting them. Norm Maclean wrote two books, and in my opinion, this one is better than "A River Runs Through It."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy United States 09-01-07
    Kathy United States 09-01-07
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    "Could have been great"

    I've never written a book. I've never spent 14 years gather information for a book.

    But if I did and people as renowned as Frank Delaney thought it was good, I sure as heck would be picky about who narrated the audio version.

    The narrator's voice never gets out of the back of his nose. Terribly irritating.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christa Decatur, Georgia, United States 03-14-13
    Christa Decatur, Georgia, United States 03-14-13 Member Since 2011
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    "In-depth Portrait of a Tragedy"

    It is obvious that the Mann Gulch Fire deeply affected Maclean, and stuck with him his whole life. Once you've read this book, it will stick with you too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George SANTA FE, NM, United States 12-02-12
    George SANTA FE, NM, United States 12-02-12 Member Since 2004
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    "Good Summary"
    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    There were several lessons learned from the Mann Gulch fire, this book outlines them. I think that the author did a lot of research to support his assertions about the several smoke jumpers who died in the fire. A quick listen.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol dummerston, VT, USA 10-29-08
    Carol dummerston, VT, USA 10-29-08 Member Since 2005
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    "One of the best books I've ever read"

    There are those books that you come across that are so moving that you end up giving the book as a gift over and over again. This is such a book. I've listened to this book countless times and have read it at least 5 times. There is something so dear about Norman Maclean's son narrating the chronicle. When you hear about the young men dying in the Mann Gulch fire, the true dignity and frailty of human life is evident and clear. Highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles LYNDON STATION, WISCONSIN, United States 03-26-10
    Charles LYNDON STATION, WISCONSIN, United States 03-26-10 Member Since 2009
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    "Young Men and Fire."

    This is no doubt one of the worst books I have ever listened to. The Author and Narrator were unbelievable. There were so many times I thought the book was over and than he would start up again. I was very disappointed and would not recomend this book.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helmars Orient, NY, USA 04-05-03
    Helmars Orient, NY, USA 04-05-03 Member Since 2002
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    "Wonderful experience"

    A worthwhile book to spend some time with. Maclean's son is the perfect reader for this text. A great detective story, very well written. Highly recommended.

    0 of 6 people found this review helpful
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