Young Men & Fire

Monday, January 10, 2011


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.

2 comments:

Jenners said...

I remember hearing about this one because my family is big on Montana authors. Never read it though ... barely like "A River Runs Through It."

One author I do think read her own book well was Joshilyn Jackson. I'm listening to her read her book "Backseat Saints" now and I'm rather enjoying her take on it.

Avid Reader said...

A River Runs Through It has been on my list for awhile. I've got to get to it eventually.

I'll have to check out Backseat Saints. Some authors can pull it off, but others aren't even close.