Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Books on Tape

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Books on Tape

Article excerpt


By Norman Maclean (6 hours, abridged, NorthWord Audio Press, $24.95)

On Aug. 5, 1949, 12 smoke jumpers and a ranger from the United States Forest Service died in Montana's great Mann Gulch fire. It is the only tragedy of the sort ever suffered by the elite airborne firefighters, and Norman Maclean spent the better part of the last 14 years of his life doing painstaking research on what occurred at the site that day.

Like the author's other book, "A River Runs Through It," which is a fictionalized account of his fly-fishing family, "Young Men & Fire" displays Maclean's love and respect for nature. His descriptions, although sparse at times, are vivid image-inducers. Without ever resorting to graphic accounts, he makes it easy to imagine the roar of the inferno as the men lost their race for safety.

That element of the story accounts for a relatively small part of the book. Most of it involves Maclean assembling the pieces and then putting together the puzzle of how the catastrophe happened.

John Norman Maclean, the author's son and a financial writer for the Chicago Tribune, is the reader. He presents the material in a straightforward manner without narrative drama.

NorthWord audios can be ordered by calling (800) 336-5666.


A novel by Sarah Bird (11 hours, unabridged, Brilliance Corporation, $23.95)

It's often our differences that shape our characters. In the case of Sonja Getz, her dissimilarities make her studious, erudite and rebellious.

She is a startling contrast to her petite, blond and very popular German-born mother. As a result, she needs a focus to discover why she is the way she is, and she finds it in the father she never knew in Sarah Bird's very funny novel "Virgin of the Rodeo."

All 29-year-old Sonja knows about her father is that, in the early '60s, he was a trick roper. She is also aware that he went by the name of Gray Wolf when he performed in Germany, where he met and bedded her mother. …

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