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The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and One of the Deadliest Days in American Firefighting

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  606 ratings  ·  95 reviews
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 fa
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Flatiron Books
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Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
“It has been said since tragedy was first analyzed that it is governed by the emotions of fear and pity. As the Smokejumpers went up the hill after leaving [Foreman Wagner] Dodge it was like a great jump backwards into the sky – they were suddenly and totally without command and suddenly without structure and suddenly free to disintegrate and free finally to be afraid. The evidence is that they were not afraid before this moment, but now great fear suddenly possessed the empty places…”
- Norman M
Brad P
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing

It was a difficult read, but not because of anything else but the fact it was so well done. I have never experienced reading a book like this before with my friends as subjects and my profession so accurately portrayed. I can't stomach Rescue Me or Chicago Fire because they loose sight of what makes the fire service great, both wildland and structure, and the mosaic of people drawn to help others(we'er not demigod heroes, just complex men and woman that choose a job that is fun, hard, sad and in
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
The unspoiled beauty of the American West is a vision which competes with the cost of enjoying that vision. It is a magnet for developers eager to build on the interface that promises both scenic vistas and a congestion-free lifestyle. The result is a growing configuration of homes abutting remote tracts of forest and chaparral on elevated hillsides and promontories. Santos observes: “From 1990 to 2008, 60 per cent of all single-family homes built in the United States were built in the interfac ...more
"Human beings take shelter from hurricanes, flee tsunamis, keep their distance from tornadoes, move indoors when dust storms roll by. Wildfires, they choose to fight."

In the summer of 2013 a relatively minor wildfire in the parched lands near Yarnell, Arizona, was suddenly whipped into an apocalyptic holocaust by the winds of a thunderstorm. In an instant, 19 heroes who comprised the famous Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting crew of Prescott, Arizona, were overtaken and killed. It was the wo
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful tribute to the brave men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. These men will live on in the hearts and minds of people who never had the honor to meet them, thanks to the diligent efforts of Fernanda Santos. I learned a great deal from this book, but I most enjoyed the personal stories about the individual firefighters and their families. I loved the narrative style and Santos' use of language.

These men, and their male and female colleagues across the country, are important public serv
Daniel Connolly
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This spring I went to a conference in Boston called Power of Narrative and got an early copy of THE FIRE LINE: The story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and one of the deadliest days in American firefighting.
I finished the book yesterday. It’s a fast-moving, vividly written read that transported me to the arid American west, a place where brave men battle wildfires that can turn and kill them.
Author Fernanda Santos was working as the Phoenix bureau chief of the New York Times when she read
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I am fascinated by the men and women who risk their lives to fight fires. This is my third book i’ve Read about the big fire tragedies. I read Norman MacLean’s about the Montana one and the other about the 1994 Colorado where many wild land firefighters were trapped and killed. I remember this in the news about the Arizona Yarnell fire but didn’t know much. I decided to read this book after seeing the movie “Only the Brave” with Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly and Jeff Bridges, though the movie i ...more
Linda Donohue
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways-read
Fernanda Santos did excellent work in presenting this story. I am a fast thinker, and she moved right along with the events and interviews and kept my interest. She was at the incident shortly after it occurred and followed it through, it was very personal to her. Living in Arizona we have heard a great deal about the Yarnell Fire tragedy and it is still in the news papers. I look forward to reading Fernanda's future works. I wish to thank GoodReads, the publisher and Ms. Santos for making this ...more
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I debated about whether to enter the Giveaway contest for this book. I was involved I wildland firefighting for 35 years and I wasn't sure I wanted to read about the lives and deaths of 19 well-trained firefighters. I also wasn't sure whether someone not involved with firefighting could understand the complexities and challenges faced by the firefighters. I was pleasantly surprised. This book is very well written and the research into the subject was accurate, exhausting and thorough. Ms. Santos ...more
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I wish the book had a little bit more about the fire itself and maybe some explanation of the investigation afterwards. It was mainly about the men and their families, which was interesting. The problem was that it jumped from one person to another so quickly that it was hard to keep track of them. I would also have appreciated a map of the various locations.
Dee Eisel
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: disasters, history
My first impression of this book isn’t as good as the previous I’d read on the subjectOn the Burning Edge: A Fateful Fire and the Men Who Fought It. Santos’s book felt somehow colder, more scattered. While her firefighting credentials are comparable to Dickman’s, there was a feeling of greater distance from the firefighters and their story. I don’t think she’s as good a writer, and that makes the story less relatable.

Santos does go a bit more into the smaller-scale economics of the city of Presc
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting story. Not the greatest writing. And there were just too many characters that were no distinguished from each other in any meaningful way.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent writer. Crisp writing packed full of information.
Human beings take shelter from hurricanes, flee tsunamis, keep their distance from tornadoes, move indoors when dust storms roll by. Wildfires, they choose to fight. They feel a certain familiarity with fire, have a sense they can control it. Fire burns in campfires and fireplaces, flames on stove tops, flickers from candles that light up the darkness, a warming and comforting presence. It provides nutrition. It sparks romance. It protects. (142)

This is one of three books I've read about the Yar
Laura Hiebenthal
Oct 17, 2018 rated it liked it
It's interesting to think about the book-movie relationship: is it better to read the book first and then watch the movie, or vice versa? Generally, I would say to read the book first. However, in this case, I saw the movie "Only the Brave" and that led me to this book. I wonder if my reaction to the book would be much different if I had not already seen the movie.

Regardless, Fernanda Santos does a nice job recounting the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots at the Yarnell Fire in 2013. There
Terry Greene
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've got my order in for this book, because I'm a fan of Fernanda Santos and I know she won't disappoint.
I know she won't disappoint for two reasons.
1. I have long read her reportage on Arizona and New Mexico in the New York Times. I know these states pretty well, and frankly much of the coverage by out-of-state newspapers is pretty ho-hum, shallow and renders the characters into cardboard stereotypes. But not Santos. She takes the time to immerse herself in a place, or in a person's soul, or
May 28, 2016 rated it liked it
If I were a family member of one of these firefighters who lost their lives, I would cherish this book. It got a little bogged down with firefighting jargon and description but it was still very interesting to read the techniques they use to try to redirect and extinguish and control these wildfires. Mainly, I was interested in the human element and to read about the camaraderie of the firefighters and the way families supported each other, etc. In that sense, the book was great and gave a glimp ...more
Jun 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fire Line is a journalistic account of the deadliest day in firefighting since 9/11/01. I learned a lot about firefighting from this book. The hotshots are called upon to fight special, large fires. Those wildfires that seemingly burn out of control? The hotshots will be on the scene. I got the impression that there is some risk to the job, but the fire that took the lives of 19 men swept through the area so rapidly that there was nothing they could do to contain it. Instead, they deployed t ...more
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a friend.

Fernanda Santos took this heartbreaking true life event and personalized it by showing us who these brave Firefighters were in their everyday lives. She interviewed hundreds of people to get the details on their families, their histories, what they liked to eat, where they hung out, what they did during their off time and how they spent their last night with their loved ones. In haunting detail, she told how they came to be Hotshots and why it was so
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, history
I actually did not like the way this book was written. It jumped around a lot and did not flow well. And for someone who is not a hotshot or involved in wildfire emergencies, the book went in to a lot of details that a layperson like me got lost in. It also glossed over the actual event that ended the lives of the Hotshots so tragically. All in all, a useful book to get more information about the incident, but not much else.
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
An incredibly well-researched book about a tragic event. I heard Ms Santos at her TedX Talk here in Tucson earlier in the year and have had this book on hold at the local library for months now.

Definitely recommend this one if you are interested in a more in-depth telling of the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots on Sunday afternoon of June 30, 2013.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Readers know how this story is going to end - 19 firefighters lost their lives in the Yarnell Fire - one of the deadliest fires in history. What author Fernanda Santos does is show us who these men were and how the disaster came to be. Her research was meticulous and detailed, but never boring. Facts are presented as needed to offer insights into the actions of the fire and the men. The anecdotes and personal stories of the men help us to understand their motivations and dedication.
I didn't kno
Jessie's Book Blog
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was hard to get through, especially because it is true. I knew about this fire happening back in June 2013 but I really got curious about it after going to see "Only The Brave" that is out in theaters right now. After seeing the movie, I immediately starting searching for books about the Granite Mountain Hotshots - I wanted to learn more about them and to see how accurate the movie actually was.

In The Fire Line, Fernanda Santos maps out the crew's story, starting with telling a little
Craig Beam
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June 2013, it set off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history. The 20 men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots heard the call and sprang into action.

The Fire Line is the story of an elite crew trained to combat the wildfires that scorched 4 million acres of wild lands in the United States that year. The men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were a ragtag family, wherever
Jeffrey Williams
As a journalist, Fernanda Santos is an excellent writer and storyteller. However, the skills don't translate well to narrative non-fiction.

This isn't a fault of Santos. Journalists are trained in the art of brevity - to convey crucial information in the fewest possible words. She does this very well.

She should be praised for the diligence in researching the material and reaching out to families and others who were there, in addition to reading the official reports. The fact that she was a New Y
Kaitlin Underwood
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“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.” - Eric Marsh

This excerpt, a quote from Eric Marsh’s appeal to the City Council in favor of keeping the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew, is one of the most poignant and accurate statements of who our “community soldiers” are. We often forget
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, audiobook, 2017
I read this in preparation for the upcoming film and I thought it was a tight, well-written account of events. I wasn't there so I can judge accuracy, but I grew up in an area where wildfires were terribly common and I think the author captured well what it's like to live in an area like that. I think this book also highlights how different rural life is: the different risks, the different culture, the different response given by other people and the nation as whole. I'd definitely recommend thi ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember June 30, 2013. Every Arizonan probably remembers where they were when they got the notification, saw the tweets, and felt shock over the loss of 19 lives outside of Prescott, in Yarnell—a town they may not have heard the name of.

This book is heart-wrenching. Thorough. Honest. Bare. It details all the moments where a bit of organization or communication could have saved 19 lives, as well as the moments showing how vibrant and lovely the Hotshots’ lives were before their untimely deaths
William French
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heart breaking story

This story is a heart breaking account of the bravery and loss surrounding the tragedy of the Yarnell fire and the death of the 19 firefighters who lost theirs in an instant. Great read and a page turner. I had to switch to audio because I could read it in the car. Went back and forth between reading and hearing the story because I could not wait to see what came next.
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Screen & Page: The Fire Line/Only the Brave 1 1 Aug 30, 2018 08:48AM  

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Fernanda Santos is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, winner of the Western Writers of America 2017 Spur Award for Best First Nonfiction Book. "The Fire Line" tells the story of 19 firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire in 2013 — the deadliest in the United States since 1933, with the greatest loss of life among firefighters ...more

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