Young Men & Fire (Audio cassette)
In 2012 I read three older wonderful, quirky non-fiction books that shared a common element: despite not being memoir, each author’s experience becomes intertwined with the story they’re telling. In addition to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Hare with Amber Eyes, I thoroughly enjoyed Young Men and Fire by Norman Maclean. It is not only a lucid analysis of the 1949 Mann Gulch tragedy in which 13 wildfire fighters were killed, this book is also a very personal meditation on the meaning of youth, loss and aging. A modern Moby Dick of the American west.
This is a decidedly un-polished account of the 1949 Mann Gulch tragedy in which 13 firefighters were killed by a wildfire in the rugged Montana mountains. MacLean (author of A River Runs Through It) was somewhat obsessed with the story, and spent most of the latter years of his life trying to get the facts down on paper. The manuscript was eventually published after his death, and while it’s clunky, it is an interesting book showing a masterful writer struggling with a difficult story and his own mortality.
Not only a lucid analysis of the 1949 Mann Gulch tragedy, this book is also a very personal meditation on the meaning of youth, loss and aging. A modern Moby Dick of the American west.— Chris
About the Author
JOHN NORMAN MACLEAN is an award-winning author and journalist who has written about wildland fire for more than 15 years. His first book, Fire on the Mountain, was featured in two documentaries by Dateline NBC and the History Channel. He has also written Fire and Ashes and The Thirtymile Fire, both critically acclaimed. He lives in Washington, DC.
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