When Norman Maclean sent the manuscript of A River Runs through It to New York publishers, he received a slew of rejections. One editor, so the story goes, replied, "It has trees in it." Forty years later, the title novella is widely recognized as one of the great American tales of the twentieth century, and Maclean as one of the most beloved writers of our time. Maclean's later triumph, Young Men and Fire, has over the decades also established itself as a classic of the American West. And with this twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, a fresh audience will be introduced to Maclean's beautiful prose and understated emotional insights. A devastating and lyrical work of nonfiction, Young Men and Fire describes the events of August 5, 1949, when a crew of fifteen of the US Forest Service's elite airborne firefighters, the Smokejumpers, stepped into the sky above a remote forest fire in the Montana wilderness. Two hours after their jump, all but three of the men were dead or mortally burned.
Haunted by these deaths for forty years, in his last decades Maclean put together the scattered pieces of the Mann Gulch tragedy in Young Men and Fire, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. This twenty-fifth-anniversary edition includes a powerful new foreword by Timothy Egan, author of The Big Burn and The Worst Hard Time. Though he grew up in the first decades of the twentieth century in the western Rockies working summers in logging camps and for the US Forest Service and cultivating a lifelong passion for the dry fly it was only at the age of seventy, as a retired English professor, that Norman Maclean discovered what he was meant to do: write. Moving and profound, Young Men and Fire honors the literary legacy of a man who improbably gave voice to an essential corner of the American soul.
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Number of pages: 352
Dimensions: 215 x 139 x 36 mm
Edition: First Edition, Enlarged ed.
"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 "