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Publisher's Summary

On the morning of July 3, 1994, the site of a forest fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado was wrongly recorded by the district's Bureau of Land Management office as taking place in South Canyon, thereby mislabeling forever one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of firefighting. That seemingly small human error foreshadowed the numerous other minor errors that, three days later, would be compounded into the deaths of 14 firefighters, four of them women. In this dramatic reconstruction of the disaster and its aftermath, John N. MacLean tells the heroic and cautionary story of people who were experts in their field but became the victims of nature at its most unforgiving.
©1999 John N. MacLean, All Rights Reserved; (P)1999 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved; AUDIOWORKS is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster Inc.

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  • Overall
  • Brendon
  • Fort Collins, Colombia
  • 12-01-08

Amazing

Incredible! I love real adventure stories and would recommend this to any adventurous travelers!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Dry voice but a great book

Voice is hard at first but his convictions for the fire service shows in tone. This is not heart warming as a book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Lakewood, CO, United States
  • 09-06-13

As a wildland firefighter it's a book that matters

In early July 1994 my girlfriend at the time and I were fighting a small 65 acre fire near Dotsero, about 40 miles from Glenwood Springs. Our incident commander was Butch Blanco. When he was redeployed to South Canyon, we begged to go with him as our fire was winding down and as young, broke Forest Service employees, it was our best chance to stay in overtime and hazard pay status. In hindsight, I consider it a stroke of unimaginable luck that we didn't get sent to South Canyon.

This book brought a lot of things home for me. I remember that summer with vivid details. I drove a load of smoke jumpers to the hospital in Glenwood to visit Eric Hipke, perhaps the last man to make it out of that box canyon alive. This book brings all those stories to life. It brings back the stories of those courageous fire fighters to life in a way that yields both compelling drama and lessons that need to be heeded. I'm devastated that these lessons have been learned before and these events continue to happen. I'm deeply saddened at the events in Arizona this summer and wish for God's sake that John MacLean would run out of stories to tell. But if anybody is going to tell the story it's John and his father (Young Men and Fire). They tell the story honestly, respectfully, and in a manner that entertains as it educates.

If you work in wildland fire fighting or live in the Wildland Urban Interface, this is a must read. Seriously, I wouldn't trust anyone I worked with who didn't read it. It's a compelling story that is rich with lessons that really should never have to be re-learned again.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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compelling story with great narration by author

I truly enjoyed this tragic story and the lessons that it teaches. The author has done a masterful job describing the events and character. Like most disasters, no single error leads to the ultimate calamity, but a slow accumulation of seemingly minor mistakes and errors in judgement. I have listened to this book several times over the years and it only gets better.

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review

awesome book. story got me emotional gave me a new found respect for smoke jumpers and hot shots

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Invaluable Resource

As a rookie WLFF heading out West, I found this incredibly informative and explanatory. The lessons taught are priceless.

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Essential for all WLFFs

The narration was good, although a bit stilted at times. I understood the story because I have studied the event, through watching videos (Lessons Learned Center), reading the Fire Behavior Report, and I'll be going to the site in a few days. However, I feel it would have been much more comprehensive and useful with a downloadable map and pictures. Particularly for folks who aren't familiar with the wildland fire community. As for the story itself, I found it heart-wrenching. I went through a simulation - a mock burnout, and as I ran, I thought of those firefighters. It was terrifying. I'm thankful that others took this tragedy and used it as a impetus for change. I hope the public at large begins to speak up, because fire behavior is becoming more unpredictable. Unprecedented blowups and other issues, such as continued problems within the structure of fire operations, threaten the safety of the folks on the ground. We must collectively realize the importance of preventative measures to mitigate the risks, and educate people on the benefits and dangers of fire. With Yarnell on our heels, there must be a push for change, both within the Interagency program and with the views and attitudes of the public. John Maclean's books are a public service.

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  • Michael
  • Staunton, VA, United States
  • 04-27-16

Another "Young Men and Fire" Excellent!

John Maclean's Books are studied by Safety and Risk Management professionals. High praise. As I write this review, John MaClean is on the scene of a fire in Shenandoah National Park. He is the real deal.

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Insightful and Heartbreaking

Overall well written book! The statement hindsight is 20-20 comes to mind, listening to this book, as a wildland firefighter, red flags went up everywhere, but it's all hindsight. It is heartbreaking knowing the hell that these brothers and sisters went through. The author brings you personally close to each firefighter lost.

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  • Story

Moving

This is a moving and meaningful book. While firefighters will have an easier time understanding much of the terminology, especially in portions examining the bigger picture response to the fire, the writing is clear enough for anyone to understand.

Personally, this book has given me a different picture of wildland firefighting and the investigations that report on the inherent tragedy of the work. I hope this story can serve as a lesson for firefighters, but more so for the chiefs and administrators who put them in harms way.