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3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  1,002 ratings  ·  100 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 24th 2002 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2001)
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Although the book is entitled "Fire" and the first part is comprised of an introduction to the essay on fire jumpers and forest fire fighting that immediately follows, the balance of the book is a series of Sebastian Junger's essays from wartorn or conflicted areas of the world. Junger is a talented journalist and writer; I deliberately use these two different words: "Journalist" in that he notices things well and, it seems to me, records events accurately while walking the fine line between "ju...more
W. Brad "Zorknot" Robinson
This is a collection of essays, not a cohesive book. I have to say that each essay left me wanting more, which is kind of good and bad. The title essay is on smoke jumpers, and it had a lot of information and good stories, but if you're looking for a book on smoke jumping or even things that are related to fire, you might be disappointed.

That said, the other essays are amazing in their own right. Junger tells of the many dangerous situations he's been in and the political situations that caused...more
Steve Lowe
Even after reading the other reviews of this book, even after reading the sort of vague introduction by Sebastian Junger about dangerous jobs, I STILL was caught by surprise when the stories in this book changed from fighting wildfires to the last remaining whale harpooner on the planet.

I loved the wildfire stuff, which was the first 50 or so pages. It's fascinating and I could have read on and on about the science of wildfires, the men and women who fight them, the technology and practices they...more
I was at the library looking for the author's newer book, War. It wasn't there, but I did see Fire - an account of fire fighters on the lines fighting forest fires. I always wondered about why these fire people run toward fires while I would run away - and although I've seen coverage of devastating fires, I imagine to see them up close as a wall of flame must be an experience for ultra-human people.

I guess I should have read the small print - the book is a collection of essays - granted the firs...more
This book is a collection of several articles that I believe were previously published elsewhere. The common denominator to the collection is 'adrenaline'. The title article is about fire-fighters working in western US with the usual Junger attention to detail about the people who do this work. Other articles are about war zones - Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia - again told from the perspective of the people fighting. There were a series of articles written with another author about Cypru...more
"Fire" is a collection of essays that Sebastien Junger, author of "The Perfect Storm" wrote as a reporter for various periodicals, including Harper's, National Geographic, and Vanity Fair.

The common theme among these stories is the examination of dangerous occupations and situations, and Junger takes us up into the Rockies with smokejumpers, visits Caribbean islanders who still hunt whales with hand-thrown harpoons from rowboats, explores the division of Cyprus between Greeks and Turks, examine...more
After reading this, you might start to think that Sebastian Junger is either suicidal or severely sadistic. Fire is a collection of articles that have appeared in other publications and some have been expanded upon for this collection. All are true and deal with the dangerous situations that Junger has exposed himself to in order to get a story. Some topics include American forest firefighters, the last true harpoon whale hunter in the world, the conflict between Turkey and Greece over the islan...more
Scottie Shelton
Per Amazon (who always puts it best):

"Sebastian Junger reports on raging forest fires in the Western U.S, war zones in Kosovo and Afghanistan, the deadly diamond trade in Sierra Leone, the plight of travelers kidnapped by guerrillas in Kashmir, the last living whale harpooner on the Caribbean island of Bequia, and the Greek-Turkish conflict on Cyprus. There is also a fascinating chapter on John Colter (explorer, fur trader, and member of the Corps of Discovery led by Lewis and Clark) in which he...more
torn between the three and the four, I started off at 3.8ish or so, backslid through some of the fire fighting details, whale hunters, kosovo, and then colter's way was short and sweet, sierra leone competent, and then afghanistan section timely and excellent.

in some ways the develompent of Junger, from interest in high-risk professions (blue-collar danger) cf. The Perfect Storm to his eventual War, and managing to "get the story" on Massoud, Afghanistan.

Modern society...has perfected the art of
Really enjoyed the forest fire related essays, the first two, going to see how the other ones are.

Whaling in the Caribbean was still really awesome, definitely a totally different culture from any I've ever known. I enjoyed the historical context of how whaling came to the area and what it means from a larger global perspective, both economically/politically and environmentally.

Would have really appreciated an update on the Kashmiri hostages...although, I'm assuming it didn't end well for them.

I'm not entirely sure why this collection of articles by Sebastian Junger is entitled "Fire," but I'm guessing it is a metaphor for what it is like to put yourself in various dangerous situations.

The first story, which is about putting out forest fires, was actually the weakest. There was a bit too much back story, and not enough of what was going on in the here and now (which is the early 1990's in this case).

I found it most interesting to read the articles that revolved around the Taliban in...more
While I couldn't get through The Perfect Storm, Fire was amazing.

As with so many of my book purchases, an npr interview with the author had me excited about the publication of the book, but I didn't rush right out and buy it as soon as it was published because I figured that if I waited a few weeks, it would show up on the bestseller lists (which would mean a significant discount). After the raging success of The Perfect Storm, I didn't see how it could be otherwise.

If the book ever did make an...more
Okay, so, I have to admit that I read all of this book *except* (in the interest of time) the section on Cyprus. I can only assume that the title is meant to suggest a metaphorical linking of various sorts of "fires" that must be put out (though they never do seem to be put out - maybe that's the unarticulated message of this book?), but I was generally frustrated by the brevity and superficiality of the essays, both of which attributes seemed incommensurate with the quality of the prose. Still,...more
Meh. Working title could have been "SEBASTIAN JUNGER IS A BADASS". I was disappointed to find that it was a collection of essays and not entirely about firefighting, and the range of topics was just a little too loose and a little too "man, I'm hard" self-serious for me to really get into.
This collection of essays about natural disasters and war and dangerous occupations taught me a lot of detail I didn't know. Having experienced running from a forest fire once, I related to that more than I'd like, but the wartime essays were insightful in a new way, and the author's reflections on fear and risk were pretty good. They felt strange insofar as his being in all of the situations was entirely voluntary, which I think greatly changes a person's interpretation. The ability to leave at...more
While I found most of the book riveting -- especially the stories about the smoke jumpers, Northern Alliance, and Whale Hunters -- I thought that some of the other stories were not as compelling.
Jun 01, 2014 Kelli marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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Nov 29, 2007 L added it
Shelves: books-on-tape-cd
We love selecting a few books on tape (or cd) from the library in preparation for spending HOURS in the car and normally pick cheezy thrillers for simple amusement. This collection of Junger's previously published articles exceeded expectations. He writes on topics ranging from smoke jumpers in the Pacific Northwest to the African diamond trade to Middle East war zones to old-fashioned whaling. It's a bit disjointed, but that worked for us as we were able to listen to a chapter or two, take a br...more
Brian Bova
Enjoyed all the stories except for the one on Whale Harpooning. At the end of every story it seemed to just end while I was waiting for more to each one. Least liked book from Junger Ive read.
Anyone who sees this shouldn't be discouraged from my two stars rated because the book is well-written. I knew that Junger started out intending this book to be about dangerous jobs and that intrigued me. Well, his first reporting of dangerous jobs turned out to be PERFECT STORM, a great book; FIRE started out to be more about dangerous jobs but he got waylaid by his passion for foreign reporting. I was most interested in the sections on firefighting, including his chapter on the Storm King wild...more
Sebastian Junger is brilliant- and his collection of essays here is top notch. This book is a collection of his previous work in the 90's of various publications. I especially enjoyed the articles that were not about war, fire, whale hunting, the stories about kosovo and afghanistan were also very good, but by the end of the book were sort of running together as my mind was glossing over, I think your brain can only take so many horrific stories of war before it stops listening (my mind anyway)....more
I'm a fan of Junger in general, and there were some great pieces in this collection of short stories and some that I ended up glossing over or skipping over after I started. The initial piece covers some of his early work with the people that fight forest fires, compelling, interesting and informative. The other stories cover Terrorism, Whaling, Exploring, and more. The overall theme is the need for some to seek adventure as a means of escape from our relatively safe modern world. For a decent q...more
Why do some of us need risky behaviors? I am not talking about risk-taking for a casino bet, but deliberately putting one's life in harm's way. Junger captures it: "It was there that he functioned at the outer limits of his abilities, a state that humans have always thrived upon." This book looks at those who fight forest fires, fight the wars in the Middle East and who have fought the elements because they NEED to. Like his earlier book "The Perfect Storm" and his most recent "War", Junger can...more
A collection of essays about extreme events like forest fires and various wars, I would probably have liked these more had I read them when they were first written. But now it all seems like old news. One interesting thing was Junger's 2001 admiring portrait of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an Afghani guerrilla leader fighting against the Taliban. I remembered as I read this essay that this was the fighter Bin Laden ordered killed a day or two before Sept. 11, in what were related attacks.
Bill Bennett
I'll be giving this book a 4+. Some of the essays are excellent and some are just good. All are worth reading. Junger has led (is leading?) an exciting life and relishes adventure and danger, though he isn't fool hearty. The articles on forest fires, Kosovo and Afghanistan are worth picking up the book, but all the articles are interesting and well written. In the age of the 24 hour news cycle well thought out journalism is a rarity. Junger proves that it hasn't totally disappeared.
This wasn't bad. The title is a little misleading. This book was supposed to be about people in dangerous jobs and the first two chapters were about those who fight wildfires/forest fires. Those chapters were really good, as was one on whale hunters. The rest were details of his time as a war corrispondant and though I learned a few things, I think a couple of chapters on war would have been enough and then on to something else. It was good a enough read to finish, though.
Some people complain because most of the essays in this book are not about "Fire," but a simple perusal of the table of contents will tell you that. As it is, the book's structure allows comparison/contrast between the different (all dire) situations described. There's something to be said for the fact that "reality" for some people is completely unreal to others of us. What leads to such dire circumstances, and how do people behave when in them? Interesting questions...
I picked this up thinking it would be a fun read, and it WAS, but it was also informative and really hard to put down. It's a collection of pieces he did for magazines about all kinds of conflicts- the wars in Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Cypress, plus forest fires and whale hunting (I didn't read the whale hunting one). He is able to explain extremely complex political situations very clearly. The forest fire fighting pieces of the title were my least favorite.
wow. This book is not only well-written, flowing, and intriguing, but the topics themselves cover such a vast breadth, it is hard to picture any one person writing about all these topics as knowledgeably as Junger does. From forest fires to kidnappings, from a divided island to whale-hunting, he is superbly well-informed about everything. However, as many of these articles were written over ten years ago, things have probably changed considerably since then.
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Sebastian Junger is an American author and journalist. He graduated from Concord Academy in 1980 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University in cultural anthropology in 1984. He received a National Magazine Award in 2000 for "The Forensics of War," published in Vanity Fair in 1999. In 1997, with the publication of his work, The Perfect Storm, he was touted as the new Hemingway,...more
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