Young Men and Fire
June 3, 2001 5:57 AM   Subscribe

Young Men and Fire is a masterpiece of nonfiction. The autor is Norman McLean, who wrote A River Runs Through It, made famous by the Robert Redford movie. It is the story of the Mann Gulch Fire . Fifteen Smokejumpers parachuted into a remote Montana gulch to fight a fire sparked by lightning - within 90 minutes, 10 were dead, overtaken by a searing wall of flame 200 feet high. Take a virtual tour of Mann Gulch. Read and order the official report. Lean about the Smokejumpers. Imagine yourself in a Montana fire.
posted by geronimo_rex (7 comments total)
MacLean's book is terrific. James Keelaghan wrote a great song about the Mann Gulch Fire called Cold Missouri Waters. It's told from the deathbed perspective of Wagner Dodge, the foreman who survived by setting an escape fire, who died five years later of Hodgkin's disease. Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, and Lucy Kaplansky also covered this tune on their Cry Cry Cry record.
posted by rosconian at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2001

At first glance, I figured the link was about the 1994 wildfire on Storm King Mountain that killed 14 firefighters.

I liked the Mann Gulch site, not only because I'm somehow drawn to content like that, but also because it was created by a high school teacher that uses it as a tool to teach topography. This is a hot concept in education right now — Project-based learning. My hat's off to the author for finding a way to find a human interest angle when teaching geography.
posted by bicyclingfool at 9:30 AM on June 3, 2001

Yeesh, I'm getting tired of front page postings that inject a ton of links in them. One or two links only please?
posted by fleener at 1:14 PM on June 3, 2001

I didn't think Young Men and Fire was anywhere near as good a book as A River Runs Through It, but the real-life story that was the basis for the book was much more interesting. It should be mentioned though that MacLean didn't actually finish this book... it was finished after his death from notes he took. I think that contributed a lot to the feeling of redundancy towards the end. Still, the best account of a really great and terrible story and well worth reading.
posted by muppetboy at 1:42 PM on June 3, 2001

"from thirty acres to two thousand acres in just ten minutes"


It's eerie how similar Storm King Mountain sounds...
Same scattered crosses leading up to the top where a couple just barely escaped...

just eerie.
posted by muppetboy at 2:01 PM on June 3, 2001

One of the best things about YMAF is MacLean's imagery. His description of the jumpers as they leave the plane and the moon reflecting off the glasses of the heart attack victim are just a couple of things that made me reread the book right after I finished it.
posted by joaquim at 11:01 AM on June 4, 2001

posted by fergy21 at 5:06 PM on June 4, 2001

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