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Home Waters: A Chronicle of Family and a River Paperback – June 14, 2022

4.7 out of 5 stars 389 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“A lyrical companion to his father’s classic, chronicling their family’s history and bond with Montana’s Blackfoot River. His storytelling—from the fishing with his dad to the life and death of his uncle Paul—is reliable, elegant and charming. … Spectacularly vivid and personal. … While Maclean’s journalistic prose is sharp and concise, it can also be beautiful.” -- Washington Post

"The prose in Home Waters, which is often transporting, flows with a shadow-cast grace. ... The best word I can think of to describe Home Waters also happens to be the Maclean’s family word: beautiful." -- Field & Stream

"A memoir about the Maclean family’s four-generation tie to Montana’s Blackfoot River that elaborates on the back story of Norman Maclean’s extraordinary 1976 novella A River Runs Through It." -- Wall Street Journal

"Maclean’s father, Norman, wrote the classic novella A River Runs through It. This memoir is an ode to its inspirations." -- New York Times Book Review, "New & Noteworthy"

"Graceful and compelling. ... Greatly expands what we might already know about Montana, fly fishing and the meaning of family. ... This is a great book." -- Chicago Tribune

“A worthy non-fiction companion to his father’s classic, A River Runs Through It. … Reminded me of Herman Melville recounting whaling minutiae in Moby Dick. … Throughout Home Waters, Maclean shows that he’s a real writer. But he’s also a real reporter with a long career for the Chicago Tribune." -- Chicago Sun-Times

“A wonderful book about fathers, sons, brothers, and family." -- USA Today

“A moving memoir of a family’s love affair with the Blackfoot River in Montana. … Lovers of literature and nature will be captivated by this heartfelt tribute to place and family.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“In this welcome companion to an American classic, John N. Maclean casts a story of place, family, and legacy: of highland streams and woodlands, and the gifts waiting in their depths; of a quiet father with much to share; and of the sometimes meandering, sometimes tumbling courses that carry us through life. A spare, patient, and compelling reminiscence that stays with you.” -- Earl Swift, New York Times bestselling author of Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island

"Finally, a brilliant, intimate, and reliable chronicle of the remarkable Maclean family and the origins of a great book, welded seamlessly to the memorable angling days and writing life of a central member. I loved Home Waters."  -- Nick Lyons, author of Spring Creek

About the Author

JOHN N. MACLEAN is an award-winning author and journalist. He spent thirty years at the Chicago Tribune, most of that time as a Washington correspondent. After leaving the Tribune, Maclean wrote five nonfiction books about wildland fire that are considered a staple of fire literature as well as training material for firefighters. Maclean is the son of Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It. The younger Maclean, an avid fly fisherman, lives in Washington, DC, and at a family cabin in Montana.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Custom House (June 14, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062944606
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062944603
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 389 ratings

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John Norman Maclean, a longtime Washington journalist and now a prize-winning author, has published his fifth book about wildland fire, River of Fire: The Rattlesnake Fire and the Mission Boys. The book updates the story of the 1953 Rattlesnake Fire with extensive photos by Kari Greer, well-known wildland fire photographer, a moving foreword by Don Will, former Mendocino Hotshot Superintendent, and much other original material. In the years since Maclean first wrote about the fire, in 2003, the site has been transformed from a neglected, virtually unmarked sea of chaparral into a fitting memorial, with fire lines restored, markers placed for the fifteen men who lost their lives, and a substantial memorial erected overlooking the terrain. Hundreds of firefighters now walk the lines each year, taking lessons from those long-ago, but now well remembered events.

&quot;It's been a lesson in creativity to open the pages of this book to talented people like Kari Greer, Don Will, and many others, and see the work enhanced and enlarged by their contributions. I've never done it this way before - I tend to be a lone wolf. But the combined energy of these people, who have forged their own deep emotional and intellectual ties to the Rattlesnake Fire, has helped produce a book that, frankly, far surpasses what I could have done in the usual way. As I grow older I take heart from associating with people such as these.&quot;

River of Fire and Maclean's other books are available on Amazon, and autographed copies are available on his website,

&quot;For a quarter century I have walked where firefighters walked, taken fire classes with them, addressed their meetings, and listened to their stories. 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.&quot;

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) helped edit his father's account of the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire, Young Men and Fire, which was published posthumously.

Maclean was a Washington correspondent for The Tribune for almost two decades. He was one of the &quot;Kissinger 14,&quot; the small group of media who regularly traveled with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the era of &quot;shuttle diplomacy.&quot; 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.

He divides his time between his family cabin at Seeley Lake, Montana, and Washington, D.C. Maclean and his wife, Frances, have 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 for the state of Maryland.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful addition to a long line of fine Maclean writing...
By Tbd on June 4, 2021
"Home Waters" is everything a fan of the Maclean's books could want - it provides insight into the book that started it all as well as delightful, entertaining and reflective family history of a unique family. Highly recommended and deeply appreciated. The photo included in the review is explained in the last chapters...
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