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 an hour later, all but three of these men were dead or fatally burned. This is the story of the Mann Gulch tragedy, of nature's violence and human ...Read MoreOn 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 an hour later, all but three of these men were dead or fatally burned. This is the story of the Mann Gulch tragedy, of nature's violence and human fallibility.Read Less
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Jul 22, 2010
Will change your life
Every great artist must confront death, and the tragic form is the ultimate means of doing so. Norman MacLean was a scholar of that as a professor at the U of Chicago for many years. After he retired and the death of his wife, he wrote his first tragedy, a paean and eulogy to the memory of his younger brother, Paul, "A River Runs Through It". Eloquent, both painful and humorous, It quickly became a modern classic. MacLean spent the remainder of his elderly life researching this story, and the mystery, of the tragic death of a number of young fire jumpers in 1949 in Montana. It is part detective story, part study of the mathematics of forest fire, but ultimately a non-fiction tragedy where his art turns the, all to often, catastrophe (another Greek word) of loss into personal, deeply meaningful, tragedy and ultimately redemption. It is the greater tragedy because MacLean died before completing it. I cannot begin to give it high enough praise.
Publishers Weekly, 1992-06-29 On Aug. 5, 1949, 16 Forest Service smoke jumpers landed at a fire in remote Mann Gulch, Mont. Within an hour, 13 were dead or irrevocably burned, caught in a ``blowup''--a rare explosion of wind and flame. The late Maclean, author of the acclaimed A River Runs Through It , grew up in western Montana and worked for the Forest Service in his youth. He visited the site of the blowup; for the next quarter century, the tragedy haunted him. In 1976 he began a serious study of the fire, one that occupied the last 14 years of his life. He enlisted the aid of fire experts, survivors, friends in the Forest Service and reams of official documents. The result is an engrossing account of human fallibility and natural violence. The tragedy was a watershed in Forest Service training--knowledge and techniques have since been improving--and this work will interest Maclean's many admirers. Photos not seen by PW. 30,000 first printing. (Sept.)
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