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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