Bookseller pals are currently pretty hot on Penguin’s The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I’m told it’s a great beach read for the nonfiction crowd—strong narrative, suspenseful pacing, and the pleasure of discovering a largely forgotten slice of history. The author’s name sounded familiar and sure enough, a trip into the way back machine turned up two titles we published by this author.
Under a Flaming Sky – Subtitled “The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894,” this is a riveting account of a fire so large it created its own weather–hurricane-strength winds, bubbles of plasma-like glowing gas and temperatures reaching 1,600 degrees. Over four hundred people died and the destruction led not only to birth of federal wildfire management but to new laws on how the logging industry could use land. Brown has a real talent for finding the human narrative at the heart of this story and I remember this one as a nonstop page-turner. (Perhaps nicely placed with Philip Connors’ Fire Season for a topical display during this summer’s challenging fire season out West.)
The Indifferent Stars Above – Brown retells the much-told tale of the Donner party from the point of view of a young woman who survived. At the time, Mary Roach called the book “an ideal pairing of talent and material… Engrossing.”