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Download Fire on the Mountain Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Fire on the Mountain Audiobook, by John Maclean Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (288 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Maclean Narrator: John MacLean Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 1999 ISBN: 9780743547291
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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 fourteen 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.

No one is better equipped to tell this story than the author, whose father, Norman Maclean, wrote the classic account of Mann Gulch, Young Men and Fire, in whose publication the younger Maclean assisted after his father's death. Fire on the Mountain took almost five years to complete and involved nearly fifty thousand miles of auto travel. The audiobook brings to light many new facts about the fire through dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests and countless interviews with survivors and members of the official investigating team, one of whose members refused to sign the final report after a long and bitter debate about where the blame for what happened should be placed.

Fire on the Mountain is, however, more than mere investigative journalism. While offering action and adventure storytelling at its best, it also provides deeply moving insights into the lives and dreams of a special breed of people who put their own well-being on the line as part of their daily jobs.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Fire on the Mountain] renews our awe and reverence for fire’s primal, inextinguishable essence, which crosses state lines, lifetimes, and generations.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Riveting.” 

    Washington Post Book World

  • “Maclean’s well-sketched personalities bring the action on the ground convincingly to life—and knowing up front that many of his main characters won’t survive South Canyon makes this tragic tale that much more compelling.” 

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “With a reporter’s objectivity and brisk prose, Maclean describes a series of small blunders in fire management that led to tragedy in July 1994 in western Colorado when a thunderstorm on Storm King Mountain, mislabeled by a dispatcher as South Canyon, killed fourteen firefighters…Maclean handles their deaths respectfully and manages to communicate the lessons to be drawn about fire management in the course of a suspenseful narrative filled with admirable, everyday heroes.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The benefits of hindsight notwithstanding, Maclean unravels a host of lost opportunities, snafus, and human failings that combined with horrific consequences.” 

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 2/8/2014

    " I have read this book several times, it holds a dear place in my heart as my father was a hotshot that had worked with several people who died on that mountain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 1/31/2014

    " Amazing story of bureaucracy within the government system of jurisdiction that led to deaths of firefighters here in Colorado. Hollow promises and out of control egos also contributed to the death of the brave souls left for dead on Storm King "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn | 12/20/2013

    " Read this book in 2003 while Tob was out on fires, after we lost a good friend while out on an assignment. Couldn't put the book down. Really hit close to home since we know some of the firefighters involved in the book. Great book, lots of tears, for me at least. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 12/15/2013

    " This is such a sad story. We drove by the area when the fire started. Being a Forest Service spouse made it even more heart breaking. Changes were made in fire fighting after this tragedy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben | 12/7/2013

    " I enjoyed reading it and definitely couldn't put it down, but one can't help to compare it to a very similarly themed book by John's father. And if one makes that comparison the latter comes out on top. But, even in that looming shadow, it is still a book worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jody | 8/17/2013

    " Anyone with any interest in wild land fire should read this book, especially all fire fighters. It's a harsh reality but one the must be realized. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 7/2/2013

    " Very interesting. If there is a weakness, it is that there is so much information that sometimes keeping track, especially of the individuals involved, is difficult. Nonetheless it is very important to know the story, and (one hopes) to learn from it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan Couch | 6/1/2013

    " This was fascinating for me. I have done wildland firefighting, so this was especially compelling for me. It is a little biographical, but it gives great insight into how dangerous this job can be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samuel | 12/1/2012

    " Starts and ends slow, by necessity, otherwise a pretty gripping account of the tragic events of the fire. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patty | 5/10/2012

    " Fascinating true story of the South Canyon Fire in Glenwood Springs CO. I happened to be there in the aftermath of the fire and then on 2 occasions hiked to the memorial. Very moving. Having a brother as a former national fire fighter made this all the more personal for me. Very good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Philippe Bishop | 2/4/2012

    " True American Heroes! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Fry | 1/11/2012

    " Great book! Having been involved in a burnover while fighting a wildland fire, I can relate to alot of things in the book. It was well written and was from a very subjective point of view. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 3/16/2010

    " YES YES YES an unfortunate sequel of sorts to his father's "young men and fire". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 9/9/2009

    " A friend recommended this book and it's an investigative look into the fire of 1994. I knew very little about wildfire firefighting and found it to be very informative. It's a bit more technical, but also peppered with the stories of the people involved. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris Kemp | 8/8/2009

    " Good book about the tragic wildfire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This book is especially good if you visit the actual site of the fire. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Don Simpson | 3/2/2008

    " I read this book immediately after reading Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean (John's father) about the 1949 Mann Gulch fire that killed 12 firefighters. This book is every bit as compelling and a somewhat easier read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tonya | 12/28/2006

    " I read this book as a reccomendation from my teacher a long time ago, and i found it made me more angry then anything. So many things could have been done that could have prevented so many deaths. I'm glad that he was able to put this story out there for everyone to know. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 10/23/2005

    " Well written, really captures fire fighter culture and the real, but simple mistakes that can cause a tragedy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louis | 8/13/2004

    " Not as gripping as I expected. The author is Norman Maclean's son but this book has none of the lyricism of A River Runs Through It. Takes a long time to get going and telegraphs which firefighters will not survive from the start. A solid report but lacked emotional impact. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy Kernan | 5/13/2001

    " Tragic story, very well written. Being from Prineville, Oregon, I couldn't pass up a chance to pay homage to The Prineville Hotshots. "

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About the Author

John Norman Maclean, a longtime Washington journalist and prizewinning author, has published several books on wildland fire, including one about the 2006 Esperanza Fire in Southern California. In order to provide an accurate account of what firefighters go through, he has spent over a decade working with them, taking their training classes, and listening to their personal stories, calling it the best job hes ever had. He resigned from the Chicago Tribune in 1995, after thirty years of working as a reporter and editor, to write Fire on the Mountain, a critically acclaimed account of the 1994 fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado, which took the lives of fourteen firefighters. The book, a national bestseller, received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award for the best nonfiction book of 1999. A History Channel documentary based on Fire on the Mountain won the Cine Masters Award for Excellence as the best documentary of 2003.