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Extended Audio Sample Young Men and Fire, by Norman MacLean Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Norman MacLean Narrator: John MacLean Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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On August 5, 1949, a crew of 15 of the US Forest Service’s elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in Montana wilderness. Less than an hour later, all but three were dead or fatally burned in a “blowup,” an explosive 2,000 degree firestorm 300 feet deep and 200 feet tall.

Winner of a 1992 National Book Critic Award, Young Men and Fire consumed fourteen years of Norman Maclean’s life. He sifted through grief and controversy in search of the truth about the Mann Gulch tragedy, then wrote about it in excruciating detail. The sobering story of the worst disaster in the history of the Forest Service also embraces the themes of honor, death, compassion, rebirth, and the human spirit.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A magnificent drama of writing, a tragedy that pays tribute to the dead and offers rescue to the living…Maclean’s search for the truth, which becomes an exploration of his own mortality, is more compelling even than his journey into the heart of the fire. His description of the conflagration terrifies, but it is his battle with words, his effort to turn the story of the 13 men into tragedy that makes this book a classic.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A treasure: part detective story, part western, part tragedy, part elegy, and wholly eloquent ghost story in which the dead and the living join ranks cheerfully, if sometimes eerily, in a search for truth and the rest it brings.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • Young Men and Fire is a somber and poetic retelling of a tragic event. It is the pinnacle of smoke-jumping literature and a classic work of twentieth-century nonfiction.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Young Men and Fire is redolent of Melville. Just as the reader of Moby Dick comes to comprehend the monstrous entirety of the great white whale, so the reader of Young Men and Fire goes into the heart of the great red fire and comes out thoroughly informed. Don’t hesitate to take the plunge.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “An astonishing book. In compelling language, both homely and elegant, Young Men and Fire miraculously combines a fascinating primer on fires and firefighting, a powerful, breathtakingly real reconstruction of a tragedy, and a meditation on writing, grief and human character…Maclean’s last book will stir your heart and haunt your memory.”

    USA Today

  • Winner of the 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 1992 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • An ALA Notable Book Finalist for Nonfiction
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About the Author
Author Norman MacLean

Norman Maclean grew up in and around Missoula, Montana, where he worked in logging camps and for the US Forest Service. He attended Dartmouth College and taught English for forty-six years at the University of Chicago. He began writing A River Runs Through It in his seventies at the request of his children.