Of the two recent books written about the tragic wildfire on Yarnell Hill and the Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives, this one covers the men who died. Well researched and written by a journalist, it is a needed book that details the events. It is also a good companion to the other volume, "My Lost Brothers" that focuses on the life of the one survivor from the Granite Mountain Hotshots. (lj Dec2017)
The Fire Line : The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots
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?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.?
- Héctor 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.
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A must read, and very powerful
This book was written in the right way and with much love and heart. Fernanda took the time to interview everyone involved as much as she could and told the store the way it needed to be written. Being from Prescott I could totally visualize every location that was listed in this book including everything in Yarnell. This book will not be topped. There are many things that are learned in this book that the media either did not publish correctly or was incorrectly reported. I will steal the words of a friend here and say that "sometimes, its all about context which, in this story was missing." and boy was she right!
This is a compelling s...
This is a compelling story of the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, and of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting that fire. Fernanda Santos has crafted a good book that expands her original reporting on the story for the New York Times. The drama of the story speaks for itself, but she keeps the narrative tension building, even though we know the tragic ending in advance. She also does a fine job with the aftermath of the fire, showing us the personal and public impacts of the tragedy. The project is clearly a labor of love for the author. She conducted extensive research and interviews with family members and others, immersed herself in the lives of the hotshots, and even underwent training as a wildland firefighter herself. Her concern and compassion for the hotshots and their surviving family members clearly comes through in her writing. This is a story -- and people -- she cares deeply about. Her portrait of the hotshots provides an added personal dimension to the broader story of Western wildfires and how we fight them. That said, the book often reads like the extended piece of newspaper reportage it is. The writing can feel clumsy at times. This was obviously a fine group of men. (The author quotes their supervisor's description of the hotshots: "Maybe to answer the question of who we are, it would be helpful to explore who or what we are not. We are not nameless or faceless, we are not expendable, we are not satisfied with mediocrity, we are not willing to accept being average, we are not quitters.") But for all the author's manifest concern for the hotshots, they mostly don't fully emerge as individuals, and her descriptions of them can seem a bit one-note and clichéd. A more nuanced and balanced discussion of the hotshots -- both collectively and individually -- would have made their story more interesting and added some depth and complexity. This is solid piece of reporting. Despite the author's compassion, it doesn't rise above that level for me. Still, it's recommended reading. (Thanks to Flatiron Books - Macmillan for an advance audio copy via a giveaway. Receiving a free copy did not affect the content of my review.)
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