Young Men and Fire
Young Men and Fire

(Norman Maclean)

They jumped from a perfectly sound airplane to do battle with fire

"Young Men and Fire" is one of the two or three best non-fiction books I have ever read. It ranks right up there with "A Moveable Feast," and that's no accident, because Maclean's prose evokes no other writer more than Hemingway (and particularly the young Hemingway).

I see that it's been deprecated by Amazon reviewers as "unfinished." Bullfeathers. It's a work of art, and the repetition that some reviewers complain about is part of the art: we keep moving up to the moment when the young men burn to death; then we back off and approach the horror from another angle.

The Smokejumpers were soldiers, and this is a tribute to the blind courage of youth, that launches itself into danger without thinking of the consequences. It's no accident that the only man to survive on the fire side of the ridge was the older man, the foreman, "Wag" Dodge, who with equally incredible courage stayed where he was, lit a small grass fire, lay down in its ashes, and let the firestorm pass over him.

Read it, and hope that you will never be tested as these young men were tested.

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