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Devil in the North Woods


Paperback / softback

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Devil in the North Woods by Walt Shiel

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In October 1908,the largest wildfire in modern Michigan history swept through the northeast part of the state, obliterating the thriving town of Metz and consuming more than 900 homes and two million acres of virgin forest. Despite the valiant efforts of the farmers, lumbermen, and shopkeepers who had hacked their fortunes from these woods, only the shores of Lake Huron could quench the sulfurous flames. With no fire watch towers, spotting aircraft, telephones, or organized firefighting organizations and with only limited telegraph service, warnings were too few and too late. In its wake, the conflagration left 43 dead and 4,600 homeless as the relentless winter loomed. Based on contemporary reports and recorded oral histories, Devil in the North Woods accurately depicts fire's genesis, growth, and aftermath. The story's real-life protagonist, 10-year-old Henry Hardies, survived the fire but his mother and three younger sisters did not. Henry left behind a wealth of personal stories preserved by his offspring.Through vivid storytelling, realistic dialogue, and a faithful recreation of the time and place, Walt Shiel brings Henry's ordeal to life as no mere retelling of the historical record could. Devil in the North Woods contrasts the terror of nature's destructive power with a chronicle of love, sorrow, family, and recovery from loss. The story leaves the reader buoyed by faith in the resilience of the human spirit and belief in love's ability to germinate in the ashes of ruin. Well-known wildfire expert Chuck Bushey (President of Montana Prescribed Fire Services, Inc.) thoroughly reviewed the manuscript to ensure accuracy in the description of the fire's progress and effects on people, structures, and the environment. Bushey's final comment: "The story is quite believable." The book includes a map and five historical photos. REVIEWS From the review published on the In The Library Reviews website (May 9, 2005): "'Devil in the North Woods' will have readers frantically turning the pages! This dramatic retelling of the largest wildfire in Michigan's history is well written and riveting.Thanks to the writing ability of Walt Shiel, this catastrophic moment of history leaps off the written page and into the hearts of readers." From the review published in the Northern Express Weekly (May 12, 2005): "Written with the pace of a thriller, 'Devil in the North Woods' is a grim but fascinating read, building a bonfire of the dusty pages of history. " ABOUT THE AUTHOR Walt Shiel has authored dozens of articles published in magazines in the US, the UK, and Australia and a monthly column for a national aviation magazine. He is also the author of the popular history book "Cessna Warbirds."
Release date NZ
May 16th, 2005
1, black & white illustrations
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Slipdown Mountain Publications
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