John Norman Maclean, a longtime Washington journalist and now a prize-winning author, has published four books on wildland fire. His latest book, The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder and the Agony of Engine 57, came out in January 2013. The book is about the 2006 Esperanza Fire in Southern California that took five firefighter lives and the subsequent conviction and sentence to death of Raymond Oyler for starting the fire.
"For almost 20 years I have walked where firefighters walked, taken fire classes with them, addressed their meetings, listened to their stories -- that's the best part, along with the hikes. And I've tried to make their high-adrenalin, high-risk existence familiar to general readers, so they can better appreciate and understand the service these exceptional men and women provide. Best job I ever had."
Maclean, a reporter, writer and editor for The Chicago Tribune for 30 years, resigned from the newspaper in 1995 to write Fire on the Mountain, a critically acclaimed account of the 1994 fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado that took the lives of 14 firefighters. The book, a national bestseller, received the Mountains and Plains Booksellers award as the best non-fiction of 1999.
Maclean, the son of famed author Norman Maclean (A River Runs through It) has helped edit two of his father's books: Young Men and Fire and The Norman Maclean Reader, which the University of Chicago Press published in November, 2008. Maclean was a Washington correspondent for The Tribune for almost two decades. He was one of the "Kissinger 14," the small group of media who regularly traveled with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the era of "shuttle diplomacy." Maclean went on to serve as the Tribune's foreign editor. He was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism, a mid-career fellowship for journalists at Harvard University, for the academic year 1974-75.
Maclean maintains a website at johnmacleanbooks.com.
He divides his time between his family cabin at Seeley Lake, Montana, and Washington, D.C. Maclean has a wife, Frances, and two sons: Daniel, a science teacher and author of Paddling the Yukon River and its Tributaries and Paddling Alaska, and John Fitzroy, a public defender.