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Young Men & Fire

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4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,022 Ratings  ·  361 Reviews
     On August 5, 1949, a crew of fifteen of the United States Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, The Smoke Jumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Two hours after their jump, all but three of these men were dead or mortally burned from a "blowup" -- an explosive, 2,000-degree firestorm 300 feet deep and 200 feet tall ...more
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Published July 1st 2008 by HighBridge Classics (first published September 1st 1992)
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Matt
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superficially, Young Men and Fire is the story of fifteen elite Smokejumpers who died in Mann Gulch, Montana, in 1949. The Smokejumpers were all young men, the best of the best in their chosen profession: fighting forest fires. Yet, in Mann Gulch, they'd been overtaken by fire and died clawing at the steep grassy slopes.

Really, though, this is a book about dying, and the important lessons about life that death provides. For it is death that gives life its value; it is death, or rather, the know
...more
Milo King
A powerful, emotional and compelling story, this book probably deserves better than the two stars I am giving it. Frankly, I was not so engaged with it as I had hoped to be - and found it quite a slog to get to the end. The writing tends toward the poetical in many places - which I appreciate - while sticking to what facts Maclean was able to unearth in his 20-plus years of research on this forest fire tragedy that killed so many young men in a very few minutes.

The problem for me as a reader wa
...more
Megan Pursell
Oct 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fire fighters, western historians
I LOVE THIS BOOK! I read it almost annually.

My husband was a fire fighter for the Forest Service, but not a smokejumper, which is why we originally purchased the book. However, I fell in love with this tale that covers a tragedy in almost classic epic style, combined with the mystery story of the science of how this event happened.
Mark
Jan 24, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
What led me to search for this story was the song Cold Missouri Waters by James Keelaghan. The lyrics follow:

My name is Dodge, but then you know that
It's written on the chart there at the foot end of the bed
They think I'm blind, I can't read it
I've read it every word, and every word it says is death
So, Confession - is that the reason that you came
Get it off my chest before I check out of the game
Since you mention it, well there's thirteen things I'll name
Thirteen crosses high above the cold Miss
...more
Fred Shaw
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Young Men and Fire" is the true story of the tragic Mann Gulch forest fire on Aug 5, 1949, and the 13 Forest Service "Smoke Jumpers" who perished. These men were mostly young, some just teenagers who had experience parachuting and fighting forest fires. The author Norman MacLean of "A River Runs Through It", wrote this "report", as an old man near the end of his life, partly because he had been a forester early in his life and knew what it is like to be fighting forest fires, and because he gri ...more
Jess
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fours-and-fives
Having grown up about 30 miles from Mann Gulch, in Helena, I think I'm probably more interested in the subject matter than most people. However, I thought this book was still really interesting even without having been to the Missouri River at Mann Gulch. During the school year, we would take field trips out to the Gates of the Mountains and take the tour boat, which turns around pretty much at Mann Gulch. When Maclean describes the change in mountain cliffs to prairie, I can see it so vividly. ...more
Cardyn Brooks
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
In Young Men and Fire, Norman Maclean's background as woodsman, scholar, and storyteller blends the perfect mix of wry pragmatism, scientific research, and compassionate narration. Having read The Big Burn first provided a deeper understanding of the context in which N.M. examines the Mann Gulch fire, the reach of its legacy, and the lives and deaths of the Smokejumpers sent to kill it in 1949.

The last section of Young Men and Fire refers to convergence multiple times and this term accurately d
...more
Trish
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this twice, once again after a period of years. I had remembered it as something that changed the way I thought about fire. To me now, I remember it as a sort of war memoir...it had that horrifying inevitability and those devastating consequences that are the stuff of war. It explained the vocabulary and choreography of fire fighting in remote areas and told of blow-overs and the terrifically searing heat, wind, and weather created in a firestorm. I have an awe of those men and women will ...more
Joyce
I think this is the first unabridged recording of Maclean's classic investigation of the tragic Mann Gulch fire in 1949 in Montana. This summer I've been reading novels of the West with a group of friends, and we had already discussed Maclean's A River Runs Through It. At the same time I listened to this, I had just listened to Ivan Doig's English Creek, also set in Montana but earlier, and there's also a fire but not such a tragic one. Maclean tries to make sense of the deaths of the trained fi ...more
Susan
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My summer book club's theme this year is Western male contemporary writers, and we just read A River Runs Through It. It seemed time to read Young Men and Fire, also by Norman Maclean, whose writing style and sense of morality and meaning in life resonate with me. Young Men and Fire was first published in the 1990's. At that time, I heard several commentaries on NPR about Maclean, this book and firefighting in general, and it has long been on my reading list.

The story of the Mann Gulch, Montana
...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Born in Clarinda, Iowa, on December 23, 1902, Maclean was the son of Clara Davidson (1873-1952) and the Rev. John Maclean (1862-1941), a Scottish Presbyterian minister, who managed much of the education of the young Norman and his brother Paul (1906-1938) until 1913. The fam
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More about Norman Maclean...
“Unless we are willing to escape into sentimentality or fantasy, often the best we can do with catastrophes, even our own, is to find out exactly what happened and restore some of the missing parts.” 24 likes
“As I get considerably beyond the biblical allotment of three score years and ten, I feel with increasing intensity that I can express my gratitude for still being around on the oxygen-side of the earth's crust only by not standing pat on what I have hitherto known and loved. While oxygen lasts, there are still new things to love, especially if compassion is a form of love.” 21 likes
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