A richly descriptive chronicle of disaster from an expert on the subject.




Thorough, disciplined account of a terrifying fire that ripped through the Okanogan National Forest near Washington State’s Canadian border in 2001.

Maclean begins with a nod to one of his previous books on the subject of firefighting. A number of new safety measures were instituted after 14 firefighters perished in the 1994 South Canyon tragedy analyzed in Fire on the Mountain (1999), but few could have predicted that the measures would be tested so soon. Just seven years after South Canyon, an improperly extinguished campfire abandoned during a smoking-hot summer in the North Cascades mountain range provided another stern trial of the firefighting community. Maclean divides the story into three parts. He begins by outlining the various people who headed into the woods to do battle with the fire on that fateful day, highlighting character traits that would play a vital part in the tragedy. The second section concentrates on how the fire was tackled, cataloguing mishaps and errors that included problems with the hoses, failure to obtain helicopter support and neglect that led to innocent bystanders Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer becoming entangled in events. The author comments on these incidents while describing a fire spiraling dangerously out of control to claim the lives of four firefighters and injure many others. The final chapters focus on the fire’s aftermath, with the deceased’s families quickly turning from sorrow to bitterness and recriminations, especially after the release of a report by the Occupational Safety and Health Commission that suggested the dead may have ignored orders. Maclean mostly keeps his opinions to himself, offering a narrative that comprehends many conflicting viewpoints.

A richly descriptive chronicle of disaster from an expert on the subject.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8050-7578-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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