Matthews, Mark 1951-

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Matthews, Mark 1951-

PERSONAL:

Born 1951, in Lynn, MA. Education: Brandeis University, B.A., 1974; University of Montana, M.A., 1995, M.F.A., 2005.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Missoula, MT.

CAREER:

Writer. Office for Civil Rights, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Boston, MA, equal opportunity assistant, mid-1970s; worked as a sculptor in South Freeport, ME; worked on a ranch in MT, beginning 1988; freelance writer, 1995—. U.S. Forest Service, seasonal firefighter, 1993-2006; has also worked as a forestry technician for the Lolo National Forest.

WRITINGS:

Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line: Conscientious Objectors during World War II, foreword by George McGovern, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2006.

A Great Day to Fight Fire: Mann Gulch, 1949, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Washington Post, High Country News, Engineering News-Record, and Indian Country Today.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mark Matthews, a freelance writer who has worked as a seasonal firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service, is the author of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line: Conscientious Objectors during World War II. In the book, Matthews looks at the individuals who performed work for the United States through the Civilian Public Service (CPS), the product of a collaboration between the Selective Service System and the historic "peace churches," including the Church of the Brethren, the Mennonite church, and the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. From 1943 to 1945, some 250 men trained as smoke jumpers near Huson, Montana, learning how to parachute into the region of a woodland fire to keep the blaze from spreading. The author "suggests that the smoke jumping program proved to be the ‘perfect’ CPS arrangement," wrote Mennonite Life contributor Rachel Waltner Goossen, "noting that drafted [Conscientious Objectors] came to their training at the Montana camp with high hopes for doing constructive, meaningful work, and that morale among the smoke jumpers remained high throughout the war." According to Larry Sears, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, "These men, as Matthews tells their stories, truly functioned as ‘guinea pigs’ to help develop the training, parachuting, and firefighting techniques that have since become standard practice for smoke jumpers. And it is these stories that give this book its vitality."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

California Bookwatch, October, 2006, review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line: Conscientious Objectors during World War II.

Christian Science Monitor, October 3, 2006, Larry Sears, "Instead of Soldiers, They Fought Fires," review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line.

Library Journal, August 1, 2006, Elizabeth Morris, review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line, p. 101.

Mennonite Life, December, 2006, Rachel Waltner Goossen, review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line.

Publishers Weekly, May 8, 2006, review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line, p. 53.

SciTech Book News, September 1, 2006, review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line.

Wildland Firefighter, October, 2006, review of Smoke Jumping on the Western Fire Line.

ONLINE

Montana Artists Refuge,http://www.montanaartistsrefuge.org/ (July 15, 2007), "Mark Matthews."