Read Young Men and Fire: A True Story of the Mann Gulch Fire by Norman Maclean Free Online
Book Title: Young Men and Fire: A True Story of the Mann Gulch Fire|
The author of the book: Norman Maclean
Date of issue: September 1st 1992
ISBN 13: 9780226500614
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 855 KB
Edition: University Of Chicago Press
Read full description of the books Young Men and Fire: A True Story of the Mann Gulch Fire: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 -- a deadly explosion of flame and wind rarely encountered and little understood at the time. Only seconds ahead of the approaching firestorm, the foreman, R. Wagner Dodge, throws himself into the ashes of an "escape fire " - and survives as most of his confused men run, their last moments obscured by smoke. The parents of the dead cry murder, charging that the foreman's fire killed their boys. Exactly what happened in Mann Gulch that day has been obscured by years of grief and controversy. Now a master storyteller finally gives the Mann Gulch fire its due as tragedy.
These first deaths among the Forest Service's elite firefighters prompted widespread examination of federal fire policy, of the field of fire science, and of the frailty of young men. For Maclean, who witnessed the fire from the ground in August of 1949, and even then he knew he would one day become a part of its story. It is a story of Montana, of the ways of wildfires, firefighters, and fire scientists, and especially of a crew, young and proud, who "hadn't learned to count the odds and to sense they might owe the universe a tragedy." This tale is also Maclean's own, the story of a writer obsessed by a strange and human horror, unable to let the truth die with these young men, searching for the last - and lasting - word. A canvas on which to tell many stories, including the story of his research into the story itself. And finally Nature's violence colliding with human fallibility.
Haunted by these deaths for forty years, Norman Maclean returned to the scene with two of the survivors and pursues the mysteries that Mann Gulch has kept hidden since 1949. From the words of witnesses, the evidence of history, and the research of fire scientists, Maclean at last assembles the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy; in his last work that consumed 14 years of his life, and earned a 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award.
The excruciating detail of this book makes for a sobering reading experience. Maclean -- a former University of Chicago English professor and avid fisherman -- also wrote A River Runs Through It and Other Stories , which is set along the Missouri River, one gulch downstream from Mann Gulch.
"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."
— from New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice, Best Books of 1992
The Men who Perished in the Mann Gulch Fire:
Robert J. Bennett
Eldon E. Diettert
James O. Harrison
William J. Heilman
Phillip R. McVey
David R. Navon
Leonard L. Piper
Stanley J. Reba
Marvin L. Sherman
Joseph B. Sylvia
Henry J. Thol, Jr.
Newton R. Thompson
Silas R. Thompson
Survivors of the Fire:
R. Wagner Dodge, foreman
Walter B. Rumsey
Robert W. Sallee
Read information about the authorLibrarian 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 family relocated to Missoula, Montana in 1909. The following years were a considerable influence on and inspiration to his writings, appearing prominently in the short story The Woods, Books, and Truant Officers (1977), and semi-autobiographical novella A River Runs Through It (1976).
Too young to enlist in the military during World War I, Maclean worked in logging camps and for the United States Forest Service in what is now the Bitterroot National Forest of northwestern Montana. The novella USFS 1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky and the story "Black Ghost" in Young Men and Fire (1992) are semi-fictionalized accounts of these experiences.
Maclean attended Dartmouth College, where he served as editor-in-chief of the humor magazine the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern; the editor-in-chief to follow him was Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. He was also a member of the Sphinx (senior society) and Beta Theta Pi. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1924, and chose to remain in Hanover, New Hampshire, and serve as an instructor until 1926—a time he recalled in "This Quarter I Am Taking McKeon: A Few Remarks on the Art of Teaching." He began graduate studies in English at the University of Chicago in 1928. Three years later he was hired as a professor at University of Chicago, where he received three Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. On 24 September 1931 Maclean married Jessie Burns (died 1968), a red-headed Scots-Irish woman from Wolf Creek, Montana. They later had two children: a daughter Jean (born in 1942), now a lawyer; and a son, John (born in 1943), now a journalist and author of Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire (1999), and two other books, Fire & Ashes (2003) and The Thirtymile Fire: A Chronicle of Bravery and Betrayal (2007).
In 1940, Maclean earned his doctorate from the University of Chicago where during World War II he declined a commission in Naval intelligence to serve as Dean of Students. During the war he also served as Director of the Institute on Military Studies, and co-authored Manual of Instruction in Military Maps and Aerial Photographs. At the University of Chicago, Maclean taught Shakespeare and the Romantic poets, and he produced two scholarly articles, "From Action to Image: Theories of the Lyric in the Eighteenth Century" and "Episode, Scene, Speech, and Word: The Madness of Lear." (The latter essay elaborates a theory of tragedy that Maclean would revisit in his later work; the essay is available here.) From approximately 1959 to 1963, Maclean worked on a book about George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn that he never completed, but from which excerpts were recently published. During his last decade on the Chicago faculty, Maclean held an endowed chair as William Rainey Harper Professor of English. After his retirement in 1973, he began, as his children Jean and John had often encouraged him, to write down the stories he liked to tell. His most acclaimed story, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories was published in 1976, the first work of original fiction published by the University of Chicago Press. This title was nominated by a selection committee to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Letters in 1977, but the full committee ignored the nomination and did not award a Pulitzer in that category for the year. A River Runs Through It was adapted into a motion picture directed by Robert Redford
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