Norman Maclean (1902 90), woodsman, scholar, teacher, and storyteller, grew up in and around Missoula, Montana, and worked for many years in logging camps and for the United States Forestry Service before beginning his academic career. He was the William Rainey Harper Professor of English at the University of Chicago until 1973.
"Young Men and Fire is redolent of Melville. Just as the
reader of Moby-Dick comes to comprehend the monstrous
entirety of the great white whale, so the reader of Young Men
and Fire goes into the heart of the great red fire and comes
out thoroughly informed. Don't hesitate to take the
plunge."--Dennis Drabelle "Washington Post "
"Young Men and Fire is a somber and poetic retelling of a tragic event. It is the pinnacle of smokejumping literature and a classic work of twentieth-century nonfiction."--John Holkeboer "Wall Street Journal "
"An astonishing book. In compelling language, both homely and elegant, Young Men and Fire miraculously combines a fascinating primer on fires and firefighting, a powerful, breathtakingly real reconstruction of a tragedy, and a meditation on writing, grief, and human character. . . . Maclean's last book will stir your heart and haunt your memory."--Timothy Foote "USA Today "
"Before Norman Maclean was a writer and professor, he fought fires for the Forest Service. When he was a teenager, he nearly died in a Montana wildfire. 'It came so close it sounded as if it were cracking bones, and mine were the only bones around, ' he writes. It's through that memory of terror, thirst, and exhaustion that Maclean begins his book Young Men and Fire. Thirteen 'smokejumpers'--firefighters who parachute into the wilderness--died in the 1949 Mann Gulch fire. With an almost obsessive attention to detail, Maclean reconstructs their story using the skill and sensitivity he honed as a novelist."--Daniel A. Gross "Longreads "