Today, firefighters across North America battle thousands of acres of wildfires and, thanks to early warnings and modern equipment, most homes are spared and lives saved.

In 1908 Michigan, a hot, dry summer and fall followed a wet spring and created ideal conditions for the October wildfire. With no fire watch towers, spotting aircraft 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 in one devastating day.

Based on contemporary reports and recorded oral histories, "Devil in the North Woods" by Walt Shiel accurately depicts the 1908 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. A thorough manuscript review by noted wildfire expert Chuck Bushey (President of Montana Prescribed Fire Services, Inc.) ensured an accurate depiction of the fire and its effects.

The story reminds us of the benefits of modern technology and leaves the reader buoyed by faith in the resilience of the human spirit and love’s ability to germinate amid the ashes.

Andrew Grgurich, Marquette (MI) Mining Journal: "I recommend this interesting a reminder of an important part of Michigan history, but also as a good story in its own right."

Joyce Handzo, In The Library Reviews: "Will have readers frantically turning the pages! . . . leaps off the written page and into the hearts of readers."

Robert Downes, Northern Express Weekly: "Written with the pace of a thriller . . .a fascinating read, building a bonfire of the dusty pages of history."

Catherine Perkins, Historical Novel Society: "Shiel’s compassionate writing creates a community of bright, supportive, and determined people, whose characters develop and deepen as the fire grows."
Published: Jacobsville Books (Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC) on
ISBN: 9781934631218
List price: $4.95
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