Young Men and Fire

  • by Norman Maclean
  • Narrated by John MacLean
  • 6 hrs and 6 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

National Book Critics Circle, Nonfiction, 1993
On August 5, 1949, a crew of 15 of the U.S. Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Less than one hour later, all but three were dead or fatally burned in a "blowup," an explosive 2,000-degree firestorm 300 feet tall. Norman MacLean spent the last 14 years of his life determined to sift through grief and controversy in search of the truth behind the Mann Gulch tragedy, one of the worst disasters in the history of the Forest Service. Young Men and Fire is the culmination of his investigations. It is a story about honor, death, compassion, and the human spirit.


What the Critics Say

"[MacLean]...remains true to the power of his own language and his own heart." (New York Times Book Review)
"A sort of pilgrimage - sometimes poetic, often earthy, and full of asides that connect the fire to experiences we all share." (Audubon)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great read, very good listen!!

Would you listen to Young Men and Fire again? Why?

Yes, this is a beautiful book about firefighting, smokejumpers, and the tragedy of the Mann Gulch fire. The recording does a good job of bringing out the highest quality of nonfictional "story" telling done by the author Norman Maclean.

What other book might you compare Young Men and Fire to and why?

A River Runs Through It, is by the same author and about the same time period and of growing up in Montana.

Which character – as performed by John MacLean – was your favorite?

I don't think that the book was looking to portray any of the characters as favorites. The book was looking to tell of what happened when a group of the nations elite firefighters encountered the Mann Gulch fire in 1949, and to show the strength of character of these brave young men.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it is a book that should be read first. After reading the book, then listening to the audio version helps to recall the harsh, rugged beauty of the story.

Any additional comments?

Robert Redford did a great job in making A River Runs Through It into a movie. This story and the men that lost their life on Mann Gulch deserve the same.

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- Crazy CT Marmot

Facinating story of tragedy and detective work

I found this book by way of the song "Cold Missouri Waters" by James Keelaghan. This is a ballad told in the voice of Dodge, the foreman. It brings tears to my eyes each time. I recommend this as well.

Young Men and Fire is a story of tregedy in the Greek sense. MacLean tells a great story and shows he is a master of words as well. He is a stickler for details and pacing. His son reads clearly and effectively - and the sound quality of the recording is superb. My only gripe is that I felt the last 45 minutes could have been condensed. Otherwise, an excellent read/listen!
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- Natalie on the coast

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-01-2000
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books