Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on February 7, 2000
As a former smokejumper and a friend of many in this book, I was again unimpressed by a maclean's writing. 'Tabloid' would be too condemning, yet in this popular account of the 1996 wildfirefighter fatalities the underlying provocative and accusational tone is certainly annoying; the careless writing unfortunate. Following in the footsteps of his father's rambling bestseller 'young men and fire', i fear that perhaps the literature of this heroic profession and its instructive tragedies is predestined to be simultaneously popularized and mistreated by generations of macleans? But as his father's featured pinpoint detail, john's book has its strengths: he very squarely captures the spirit of modern wildfirefighting: a battle often not against nature as much as organizing to defeat the complexity of large bureaucracies and the chaos they spawn. This account traces the tragic consequences when people communicate poorly, engage in petty organizational squabbles, flaunt fundamental rules, and fail to act on their instincts. 'fire on the mountain' embodies the spirit of sloppiness that created such a tragedy; too bad it doesn't get us to higher ground.
If you're interested in the wildfirefighters' life, or smokejumping, skip the goofy maclean attempts and go straight to Murray Taylor's excellent "Jumping Fire".
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