Urban conflagrations, such as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Great Boston Fire the following year, terrorized the citizens of nineteenth-century American cities. However, urban rebirth in the aftermath of great fires offered a chance to shape the future. Ultimately residents and planners created sweeping changes in the methods of constructing buildings, planning city streets, engineering water distribution systems, underwriting fire insurance, and firefighting itself. Crucible of Fire describes how the practical knowledge gained from fighting nineteenth-century fires gave form and function to modern fire protection efforts. Changes in materials and building design resulted directly from tragedies such as fires in supposedly fireproof hotels. Thousands of buildings burned, millions of dollars were lost, the fire insurance industry faltered, and the nature of volunteerism changed radically before municipal authorities took the necessary actions. The great fires formed a crucible of learning for firefighters, engineers, architects, underwriters, and citizens. Veteran firefighter Bruce Hensler shows how the modern American fire service today is a direct result of the lessons of history and a rethinking of the efficacy of volunteerism in fighting fires. Crucible of Fire is an eye-opening look at today's fire service and a thorough examination of what firefighters, civic leaders, and ordinary citizens can do to protect their homes and communities from the mistakes of the past.
Few writers have been to so many desperate corners of the globe as has Sebastian Junger; fewer still have provided such starkly memorable evocations of characters and events. From the murderous mechanics of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone to the logic of guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan and the forensics of genocide in Kosovo, this new collection of Junger's nonfiction will take you places you wouldn't dream of going to on your own.
A riveting collection of literary journalism by the bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, capped off brilliantly by a new Afterword and a timely essay about war-torn Afghanistan -- a superb eyewitness report about the Taliban's defeat in Kabul -- new to book form.
Sebastian Junger has made a specialty of bringing to life the drama of nature and human nature. Few writers have been to so many disparate and desperate corners of the globe. Fewer still have met the standard of great journalism more consistently. None has provided more starkly memorable evocations of extreme events. From the murderous mechanics of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, to an inferno forest fire burning out of control in the steep canyons of Idaho, to the forensics of genocide in Kosovo, this collection of Junger's reporting will take readers to places they need to know about but wouldn't dream of going on their own. In his company we travel to these places, pass through frightening checkpoints, actual and psychological, and come face-to-face with the truth
"In Fernanda Santos' expert hands, the story of 19 men and a raging wildfire unfolds as a riveting, pulse-pounding account of an American tragedy; and also as a meditation on manhood, brotherhood and family love. The Fire Line is a great and deeply moving book about courageous men and women."
- H ctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free.
When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June of 2013, setting off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history, the twenty men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots sprang into action.
An elite crew trained to combat the most challenging wildfires, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were a ragtag family, crisscrossing the American West and wherever else the fires took them. The Hotshots were loyal to one another and dedicated to the tough job they had. There's Eric Marsh, their devoted and demanding superintendent who turned his own personal demons into lessons he used to mold, train and guide his crew; Jesse Steed, their captain, a former Marine, a beast on the fire line and a family man who wasn't afraid to say "I love you" to the firemen he led; Andrew Ashcraft, a team leader still in his 20s who struggled to balance his love for his beautiful wife and four children and his passion for fighting wildfires. We see this band of brothers at work, at play and at home, until a fire that burned in their own backyards leads to a national tragedy.
Impeccably researched, drawing upon more than a hundred hours of interviews with the firefighters' families, colleagues, state and federal officials, and fire historians and researchers, New York Times Phoenix Bureau Chief Fernanda Santos has written a riveting, pulse-pounding narrative of an unthinkable disaster, a remarkable group of men and the raging wildfires that threaten our country's treasured wild lands.
The Fire Line is the winner of the 2017 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book, and Spur Award Finalist for Best Western Contemporary Nonfiction.
The "vivid" and "electrifying" true story of how five monks saved the oldest Zen Buddhist monastery in the United States from wildfire ("San Francisco Chronicle").
When a massive wildfire surrounded Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, five monks risked their lives to save it. A gripping narrative as well as a portrait of the Zen path and the ways of wildfire, "Fire Monks" reveals what it means to meet a crisis with full presence of mind.
Zen master and author of the classic "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," Shunryu Suzuki Roshi established a monastery at Tassajara Hot Springs in 1967, drawn to the location's beauty, peace, and seclusion. Deep in the wilderness east of Big Sur, the center is connected to the outside world by a single unpaved road. The remoteness that makes it an oasis also makes it particularly vulnerable when disaster strikes. If fire entered the canyon, there would be no escape.
More than two thousand wildfires, all started by a single lightning storm, blazed across the state of California in June 2008. With resources stretched thin, firefighters advised residents at Tassajara to evacuate early. Most did. A small crew stayed behind, preparing to protect the monastery when the fire arrived.
But nothing could have prepared them for what came next. A treacherous shift in weather conditions prompted a final order to evacuate everyone, including all firefighters. As they caravanned up the road, five senior monks made the risky decision to turn back. Relying on their Zen training, they were able to remain in the moment and do the seemingly impossible-to greet the fire not as an enemy to defeat, but as a friend to guide.
"Fire Monks" pivots on the kind of moment some seek and some run from, when life and death hang in simultaneous view. Novices in fire but experts in readiness, the Tassajara monks summoned both intuition and wisdom to face crisis with startling clarity. The result is a profound lesson in the art of living.
In this lively account of one fire] season, Pyne introduces us to the tightly knit world of a fire crew, to the complex geography of the North Rim, to the technique and changing philosophy of fire management.
"Fire Season both evokes and honors the great hermit celebrants of nature, from Dillard to Kerouac to Thoreau--and I loved it."
--J.R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar
" Connors's] adventures in radical solitude make for profoundly absorbing, restorative reading."
--Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air
Phillip Connors is a major new voice in American nonfiction, and his remarkable debut, Fire Season, is destined to become a modern classic. An absorbing chronicle of the days and nights of one of the last fire lookouts in the American West, Fire Season is a marvel of a book, as rugged and soulful as Matthew Crawford's bestselling Shop Class as Soulcraft, and it immediately places Connors in the august company of Edward Abbey, Annie Dillard, Aldo Leopold, Barry Lopez, and others in the respected fraternity of hard-boiled nature writers.
Explores the role of firefighting in human history while chronicling the world's most famous fires. An innovative, vividly illustrated chronicle of humankind's struggle to subdue nature's most primal and destructive force -- from Rome in 64 AD to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 -- Firefighting examines history's most formidable fires, showing how each influenced the evolution of firefighting technology, equipment, and tactics. Following today's firefighters as they prepare to meet the challenges of tomorrow's fires, no other book has explored the role of the firefighter in human society-past, present, and future quite like Firefighting.