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About John N. Maclean
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.
"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."
River of Fire and Maclean's other books are available on Amazon, and autographed copies are available on his website, JohnMacleanBooks.com.
"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."
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 "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.
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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“BEAUTIFUL. ... A lyrical companion to his father’s classic, A River Runs through It, chronicling their family’s history and bond with Montana’s Blackfoot River.” —Washington Post
A New York Times "New & Noteworthy" Selection
A "poetic" and "captivating" (Publishers Weekly) memoir about the power of place to shape generations, Home Waters is John N. Maclean's remarkable memoir of his family's century-long love affair with Montana's majestic Blackfoot River, the setting for his father's classic novella, A River Runs through It. Maclean returns annually to the simple family cabin that his grandfather built by hand, still in search of the trout of a lifetime. When he hooks it at last, decades of longing promise to be fulfilled, inspiring John, reporter and author, to finally write the story he was born to tell.
A book that will resonate with everyone who feels deeply rooted to a landscape, Home Waters is chronicle of a family who claimed a river, from one generation to the next, of how this family came of age in the 20th century and later as they scattered across the country, faced tragedy and success, yet were always drawn back to the waters that bound them together. Here are the true stories behind the beloved characters fictionalized in A River Runs through It, including the Reverend Maclean, the patriarch who introduced the family to fishing; Norman, who balanced a life divided between literature and the tug of the rugged West; and tragic yet luminous Paul (played by Brad Pitt in Robert Redford’s film adaptation), whose mysterious death has haunted the family and led John to investigate his uncle’s murder and reveal new details in these pages.
A universal story about nature, family, and the art of fly fishing, Maclean’s memoir beautifully portrays the inextricable ways our personal histories are linked to the places we come from—our home waters.
Featuring twelve wood engravings by Wesley W. Bates and a map of the Blackfoot River region.
A riveting account of the deadly Thirtymile fire and the controversy and recriminations that raged in its aftermath, from our premier chronicler of wildfires and those who fight them
The Thirtymile fire in the remote North Cascade range near the Canadian border in Washington began as a simple mop-up operation. In a few hours, a series of catastrophic errors led to the entrapment and deaths of four members of the fire crew—two teen-age girls and two young men. Each had brought order and meaning to their lives by joining the fire world. Then the very flames they pursued turned on them, extinguishing their lives. When the victims were blamed for their own deaths, the charge brought a storm of controversy that undermined the firefighting community.
Continuing a tradition established in his previous books, and by his father Norman's Young Men and Fire, John N. Maclean serves as an unflinching guide to the rogue fire's unexpected violence—which is almost matched by the passions released by the official verdict of the blaze. Weaving together the astonishing stories told by the witnesses, the victims' family members, and the official reports, Maclean produces a dramatic narrative of a catastrophe that has changed the way fire is fought. More than anything, it is a story of humanity at risk when wildfire, ancient and unpredictable, breaks loose
Today, wildland fire is everybody's business, from the White House to the fireground. Wildfires have grown bigger, more intense, more destructive—and more expensive. Federal taxpayers, for example, footed most of the $16 million bill for fighting the Esperanza Fire. But the highest cost was the lives of the five–man crew of Engine 57, the first wildland engine crew ever to be wiped out by flames. They were caught in an "area ignition," which in seconds covered three–quarters of a mile and swept the house they were defending on a dry ridge face, where human dwellings chew into previously wild and still unforgiving territory.
John Maclean, award–winning author of three previous books on wildfire disasters, spent more than five years researching the Esperanza Fire and covering the trial of Raymond Oyler. Maclean offers an insider's second–by–second account of the fire and the capture and prosecution of Oyler, the first person ever to be found guilty of murder for setting a wildland fire.