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 ...Show synopsisOn 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.Hide synopsis
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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.
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