The story of the Ham Lake fire, at the time the most destructive wildfire in modern Minnesota history—the blaze, the firefighters’ battle, the human toll

Gunflint Burning is a comprehensive account of the dramatic events around the Ham Lake fire of 2007, one of the largest wildfires in Minnesota history. In sharp detail, Cary J. Griffith describes the key events of the fire as they unfold, transporting readers to the front lines of an epic struggle that was at times heroic, tragic, and sublime.

"Skillfully wielding his narrative talent, Cary J. Griffith leads readers into the blistering heart of the 2007 Ham Lake fire, one of the most destructive in Minnesota history."  — Peter M. Leschak, author of Ghosts of the Fireground and Letters from Side Lake

"In Gunflint Burning, Cary Griffith has penned the consummate story of one of the great wildfire disasters in the history of Minnesota. Expertly reported and cleverly written, this account of the Ham Lake fire of 2007 reads like a thriller and an environmental treatise all in one. This is no coincidence, given Griffith’s bona fides. Gunflint Burning is one of those rare books for just about anyone. " — Peter Geye, author of Wintering

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Savage Minnesota
(The Star Tribune's 2014 Summer Read)

Sam Rivers, special agent for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, returns to Minnesota for an extradition hearing and finds himself in the middle of a case unlike any he's ever seen. Once referred to as the ‘predator’s predator,’ Rivers follows the facts, regardless the dangerous places they lead.


The second Sam Rivers novel was selected by the Star Tribune of the Twin Cities as its Summer read. To find out more, and read the first chapter, visit


About Savage Minnesota


Some readers' comments: 

"A quick and fun read. Interesting characters. Plan to read Wolves next."


"Excellent suspense and great use of the local scene."


"Started with paper, had to down load book....very good!!!"


"Very good; hard to put down."


"Really enjoyed this book. Excellent writing, found it a real page turner, could not put it down."


"The character development and interaction throughout is Hemingway-esk."


"Read it in 4 days. Congrats to the author. Job well done."

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Sam Rivers, wildlife biologist and special agent for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has a penchant for understanding predators. His expertise finds him returning to Defiance, Minnesota, his boyhood home on the Mesabi Iron Range, a place he hasn’t seen in twenty years. There, he investigates wolf depredation of local livestock—but wolves aren’t the only predators in Defiance. The mysterious death of his estranged father lands the agent on a case unlike any he’s worked before. His knowledge of cold, wilderness and wolves was bred in his bones. He learned his lessons well, and now he’ll need to use them.

About Wolves

"Cary Griffith has written a terrific book: a great hybrid of mystery/thriller with a smart environmentalist leaning to it.  Nary a false step leads the reader into the heart of this book. Have you ever wondered what it might mean to be the hunted?  Read on."

--Mary Logue, award-winning author of the Claire Watkins mysteries.


"Award-winner Griffith's fiction debut is a north woods winter chiller!"

--Chuck Logan, author of Homefront (now a major motion picture) and the Phil Broker novels


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In the wilderness, one false step can make the difference between a delightful respite and a brush with death.


On a beautiful summer afternoon in 1998, Dan Stephens, a 22-year-old canoeist, was leading a trip deep into Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. He stepped into a gap among cedar trees to look for the next portage—and did not return.


Three years later, Jason Rasmussen, a third-year medical student who loved the forest’s solitude, walked alone into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on a crisp fall day. After a two-day trek into a remote area of the woods, he stepped away from his campsite and made a series of seemingly trivial mistakes that left him separated from his supplies, wet, and lost, as cold darkness fell.


Enduring days without food or shelter, these men faced the full harsh force of wilderness, the place that they had sought out for tranquil refuge from city life. Lost in the Wild takes readers with them as they enter realms of pain, fear, and courage, as they suffer dizzying confusion and unending frustration, and as they overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles in a race to survive.

About Lost in the Wild

"Lost in the Wild is a book you'll cancel appointments to read.  Shelve it between the works of Jack London and Jon Krakauer..."
--University of Minnesota Alumni Magazine


"... gripping ... admirable economy and a flair for suspense ..."
--Washington Post


"... harrowing ... saavy ... Griffith writes lucidly throughout ..."
Publishers Weekly


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A cave diver exploring a spring, blinded by a cloud of silt and trussed like a bug in a web of his own dive line, must find a way out before his tank empties. A group of young people exploring a manmade cave underneath a St. Paul neighborhood discover a dangerous cache from the 1950s. Five teenagers enter another of St. Paul’s caves after a fire has robbed the air of oxygen, and only two emerge alive. With these compelling incidents, author Cary J. Griffith introduces readers to the challenges and dangers of caving.


Griffith then recounts the amazing story of Goliath’s Cave in southeastern Minnesota’s karst region. Discovered by recreational cavers in the 1980s, this extensive complex remained largely and tantalizingly unexplored: it could be entered only through a sump that was rarely open. When a proposal to start a quarry threatened the cave’s existence, state officials purchased the entryway, designated it as a scientific preserve, and closed off public access. The cavers, furious, found  their own highly effective and deeply controversial way into the cave. Squeezing through tiny openings, scuba diving through silt-filled waters, scaling walls, and traversing crevasses, they painstakingly investigated Goliath’s ever-further reaches in an exploration that continues to this day.


With a mix of adventure, suspense, politics, science, discovery, and wonder, Opening Goliath takes readers to a subterranean wilderness where exploration and preservation sometimes coexist—and sometimes collide.

About Opening Goliath

“In nonfiction that reads like a fast-paced thriller, Cary J. Griffith explores the incredible beauty and danger of Minnesota’s caves, along with the personalities of those driven to enter the unknown, whatever the risks. But beyond the drama of exploration, Griffith presents the very human conflict that results when a newfound cave system becomes a public trust—and a political football, bounced between bureaucracies, well-meaning experts, and the recreational cavers who discovered the labyrinthine passages, all of whom claim to know the ‘best’ way to protect fragile underground wilderness.  A great read and an insightful look at the politics of conservation, Opening Goliath is destined to become a classic among cavers and noncavers alike.”
--Michael Ray Taylor, author of Cave Passages: Roaming the Underground Wilderness and Caves: Exploring Hidden Realms


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