Fire Cover

Book Reviewed: Fire

Author: Sebastian Junger

Published by: W.W. Norton and Company, New York

Copyright Date: 2001

ISBN: 0-393-01046-5

Type: Soft Cover

Reviewed by: Yackman

Yackman’s Rating: 5 points out of 10

It’s not that this is a bad book.  I have read several of Sebastion Junger’s books and they are all very well written (The Perfect Storm, Under the Banner of Heaven).  This one is well written too.  But instead of a single story, this book contains a series of journalistic reports, with each chapter a new story.  They are loosely grouped into three themes; Fire, meaning reporting on forest fires and the men and women who fight them; War, familiar conflicts all over the world that Junger had first hand contact with; and, for lack of a better title, Other, interesting but unconnected journalistic reports from around the world.

An example of the Fire theme is entitled, “Blowup: What Went Wrong at Storm King Mountain”.  “Kosovo’s Valley of Death” represents the War theme.  While “The Whale Hunters” represents the Other category.  There are eleven chapters in all.

I really enjoyed the several entries about the men and women of the Forest Service who fight wild fires.  I found them quite compelling.  I also liked the story about the aboriginal Alaskan whale hunters because it was so unique and well written.  The war stories were gripping, mostly because I couldn’t believe that Junger put himself in such rediculously dangerous places.

The best thing about a book like this, beside the fact that Junger is an excellent writer of nonfiction, is that it works well when there is not time to get lost in a lengthy book.  Each chapter is a discrete work.  The reader can read a chapter, then put the book down without the mental pull of getting back into the story.  This type of book is great when you are traveling, busy with family and friends, kayak camping, or for those with a congenitally short attention span.  

 © Don Yackel 2020