About John Maclean


John Maclean was a writer, editor, and reporter for the Chicago Tribune for 30 years before he resigned his job there in 1995 to write Fire on the Mountain. Maclean was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1943, the second of two children. He attended the University of Chicago school system through high school, then enrolled at Shimer College in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, then a satellite school for the U of C. He was an honor student at Shimer and received a bachelor of arts degree in humanities in 1964; he received the school’s distinguished alumni award in 1975.


City News reporterMaclean went to work for the legendary City News Bureau of Chicago as a police reporter and rewrite man in 1964 and was hired by The Chicago Tribune the following year. He married Frances Ellen McGeachie in 1968. In 1970, he was sent to the Washington Bureau of the Tribune, becoming the youngest journalist at that time ever to work in the bureau. He remained with the bureau for 18 years, most of that time as the diplomatic correspondent covering the State Department.


He was a regular on the “Kissinger Shuttle,” covering many of the legendary diplomatic journeys of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Maclean was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University for the academic year 1974-75, and became the Tribune’s Foreign Editor in Chicago in 1988.


Maclean left the Tribune after the South Canyon Fire on Colorado's Storm King Mountain killed 14 firefighters. He spent the next several years researching and writing his first book, Fire on the Mountain, published in 1999.

The book was the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Association's best nonfiction title that year. He followed this with two more books on fatal wildfires; Maclean's been nominated for several Pulitzers, and has written for numerous other publications.

Daniel Maclean An avid fly-fisherman, Maclean divides his time between his residence in Washington, D.C. and the Maclean family cabin in Montana.

The Macleans have two adult children -- Daniel, an author (Paddling the Yukon River and its Tributaries), adventurer and science teacher, and John Fitzroy, a public defender for the state of Maryland.