Young Men & Fire
Monday, January 10, 2011Posted by Melissa (Avid Reader)
Young Men and Fire
by Norman Maclean
Thirteen young smokejumpers were killed during the tragic Mann Gulch fire in Montana in 1949. Maclean researched every detail of the story, compiling multiple accounts to give a broad picture.
The book drags in a few parts, but overall it’s a fascinating look at the horrible event. It’s as much a story of Maclean’s research as it is a story about the men. He didn’t begin the book until he was in his 70s, which makes the deaths he writes about especially poignant. When he wrote it he’d already lived a long, full life, something that none of those men were able to do.
The book looses its focus in the second half, drifting a bit into personal feelings rather than facts. Overall, I’d say if the topic interests you read it, otherwise, skip it.
Side Note: The narrator of the audiobook was awful and I almost stopped reading it because of him. I learned later that it was read by Norman’s son, John Maclean, which explains a lot. It’s very rare to find an author or any other unprofessional reader that can do a good job with an audiobook. There are exceptions, like David Sedaris and Neil Gaiman, who are wonderful, but on average it doesn’t work out well.