- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (December 8, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061829617
- ISBN-13: 978-0061829611
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 100 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire Paperback – December 8, 2009
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"The Denver Post" Like his father [Norman Maclean, author of "Young Men and Fire]," Maclean has written a work that will be read and reread for years.
"The Washington Post Book Review"
"The Washington Post Book Review"
"The New York Times Book Review"
"Fire on the Mountain" renews our awe of and reverence for fire's primal, inextinguishable essence, which crosses state lines, lifetimes and generations.
"The Denver Post"
Like his father [Norman Maclean, author of "Young Men and Fire]," Maclean has written a work that will be read and reread for years.
"The Denver Post"Like his father [Norman Maclean, author of "Young Men and Fire]," Maclean has written a work that will be read and reread for years.
"The Washington Post Book Review"RIVETING.
"The New York Times Book Review""Fire on the Mountain" renews our awe of and reverence for fire's primal, inextinguishable essence, which crosses state lines, lifetimes and generations.
From the Back Cover
In 1994, a wildfire on Colorado's Storm King Mountain was wrongly identified at the outset as occurring in South Canyon.
This unintentional, seemingly minor human error was the first in a string of mistakes that would be compounded into one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of firefighting. Before it was done, fourteen courageous firefighters—men and women, hotshots, smoke jumpers, and helicopter crew—would lose their lives battling the deadly so-called South Canyon blaze.
John N. Maclean's award-winning national bestseller Fire on the Mountain is a stunning reconstruction of the killer conflagration and its aftermath—a page-turning true adventure of nature at its most unforgiving, and a powerful, indelible portrait of a unique breed of heroes who regularly and without question place their lives on the line.
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This books fills in a lot of the back stories and firefighter biographies that are not present in the two South Canyon incident reports. It certainly doesn't answer all the questions about the fire--they likely exist in the ten thousand pages of reference material cited by Maclean at the end of the book--but it's certainly worth reading for anyone looking for more insight into the incident.
Written in a nice prose style, Maclean builds suspense throughout the first five chapters, even though I already knew what the final outcome of the fire was. It put an ache in my gut more than once as Maclean described the everyday activities and fateful chance decisions of the firefighters 24 to 48 hours before their deaths. The prose isn't perfect: On more than one occasion, Maclean refers to previous wildland incidents (such as Mann Gulch) in a choppy fashion in an attempt to relate it to South Canyon. The attempt is probably lost on the casual reader. References like that only made sense to me because I've studied the fires (or took the time to look them up while I was reading the book). The obligatory photos in the center of the book are in black and white (hence the -1 star) and aren't very useful when it comes time to understanding movement in the last minutes of the firefighters' lives. To get useful pictures, the reader will need to download one of the official reports, which will have much more detailed reference photographs.
The book provides a nice level of detail that allows me to study the leadership decisions and risk management associated with the fire while providing useful insight into the emotional side of the tragedy.
Maclean's research was complete and meticulous. He compiles his work into an astounding, captivating narrative that draws the reader along as the tragic events unfold on Storm King.
I felt as if I were there on the west flank line with the Prineville hotshots and the smoke jumpers. As I read this compelling book, I felt as if I'd known each of the victims for many, many years. I could actually feel the superheated air and smell the toxic gases coming off the blowup.
Along with a gripping narrative, Maclean incorporates analysis of events and decisions made prior to, during, and after the tragedy. This, again, is based on hours of interviews and meticulous research.
His reconstruction of the final moments of each of the victims was very benifical as well.
I've never been to Storm King Mountain, but after reading this truly exceptional book, I plan to go. I didn't know any of the victims or people involved either, but after reading John Maclean's exceptional book I feel as if I were there.
Buy this book, read it, cherish it, be moved by it.
It is a lasting memorial to those who died on the mountain.