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Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA's Most Devastating Wildfire

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4.85  ·  Rating details ·  27 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Malibu is known as an earthly paradise of multi-million-dollar mansions, movie stars and unimaginable natural beauty.
But all that changed on November 8, 2018.
Go deep behind the scenes of the most destructive wildfire in Los Angeles history. Alongside his wife and son, Robert Kerbeck battled the fire that threatened to take their home. He knows first-hand how th
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Kindle Edition
Published November 1st 2019 by MWC Press
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Janet
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

Malibu is known as an earthly paradise of multi-mil
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Eric Giroux
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book about a terrible disaster and the ordinary citizens who banded together to fight it. Kerbeck writes with deep humanity, affection, and bright flashes of humor about his beloved Malibu, which he brings vividly to life in this swift-moving account of the Woolsey Fire. The book is also deeply researched, chock-full of personal, local, and historical detail. And it's astonishing how such a richly developed book has come to us so soon after Woolsey. Long-time local Kerbeck must have ...more
Michael Bland
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Malibu Burning is gripping and heart-breaking. The world-famous area is a mix of beauty and wealth, blue-collar and high-end. And nearly all of it burned in one horrific fire.

Kerbeck brings you into the chaos and terror, the camaraderie and sacrifice, because he was there. He and his family fought the fire. With not only first-hand knowledge but hard research and deep passion, Kerbeck has written an account that is as searing as the fire itself. His tapestry of tales will remind you
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Donna Hines
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
A real encounter of a deadly situation that has lasting consequences for all those involved.
My issue comes with the fact that many expect the government to fund for the rebuild and reinvestment into territories that are marked for disaster.
Folks, there comes a time when we must face facts. The ecosystem is one of those facts. Global warming and climate change is reality.
These Santa Ana winds , these earthquakes, these fragile systems such as the power grids are reality and cann
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YiShun
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Malibu wildfires were something all of America paid attention to and heard about, but this is the first book I've seen to tell it from the perspective of people on the ground. Kerbeck writes their stories with humility and grace, ultimately crafting a picture of the people of Malibu that I think those of us living even 100 miles away from it, like me, would never otherwise get. What outs is a recounting of the wildfire that's truly three-dimensional, with the added benefit of the reader's fe ...more
John Struloeff
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Through vivid firsthand accounts of survivors, drawn from more than two hundred interviews, as well as his own near fatal confrontation with the fire, Kerbeck guides us through the disorienting and often terrifying experience that was the Woolsey Fire of 2018. Cinematic and rich with detail, with characters and scenes that will stay with you long after you've closed the book, this investigative memoir reads like a well-written novel. One of the first books to be written about the Woolsey Fire, i ...more
Adam Rocke
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant and harrowing tale of a major wildfire from the eyes (and heart) of someone who lived it.

The literary fuel that drives this story could only have come from someone who saw its devastation and felt its heat up close & personal.

I'd recommend it to anyone!
Seth Kramer
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An informative, enjoyable and moving read.

Very much an oral history of how the Woolsey fire impacted and affected Malibu residents of varied backgrounds and economic situations.

The writer’s humanity and empathy shows through on every page.
Liane
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When is a fire not just a fire? When the real people (and even animals) affected by it are examined closely and compassionately, when the politics of how and what flames were extinguished first is revealed, when the fire (in this case, the Woolsey fire) is a jumping off point for an in-depth look at the people and places (some of them now lost) of Malibu. This is an exceptional book, and one that (if you are a Los Angeleno especially) will make you angry, too.

When you see a tragedy on the news,
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Bridget
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Malibu Burning is the true story of the everyday heroes during Malibu's devastating Woolsey Fire, the largest wildfire in Malibu's history. Kerbeck has done his homework here - interviewing citizens, on-the-ground first responders, fire personnel, celebrities, even the mayor. From the ashes, the story of a determined community emerges - not the community of glamour and fame known to the outside world - but the one behind the celebrity curtain, the one known as Old Malibu. Through the retelling o ...more
Marrie
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
California's annual siege of predictable wildfires might make the casual observer nearly immune to the horrific images on the nightly news. Like America's gun violence epidemic, we're in danger of numbing ourselves to overwhelming tragedy. And once a fire is contained and the news cycle moves on, its devastating aftermath and the fates of its victims are often forgotten.

Kerbeck takes readers by the hand and leads them—street by street, home by home, bedroom by wagon by horse stall—th
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Kristin Armfield
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Poignant. Personal. Powerful. This is the Malibu you don't know.

Part embedded journalistic reporting/part memoir, Malibu Burning reveals the real Malibu, a fiercely independent and eclectic community, including the author himself, collectively facing the worst firestorm in Los Angeles to date. From garden hoses to late night youtube tutorials, to saving thirsty chickens and injured ponies to community elders, this is an epic page-turner set against the intimate triumph and tragedy of its inhabi
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Andrea Stein
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Often we read about horrific events, feel bad, categorize them, and move on. But reading Malibu Burning is another thing entirely -- an up-close-and-personal account of the Woolsey fire told through interviews and bolstered by research and history that brings you into the event in a way you won't forget. But not only is there the immediacy that Kerbeck's lively and dramatic writing brings to the events that transpired, you also learn about the inhabitants of the Malibu community, its history, an ...more
Rick
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I read it in 2 days and I'm a pretty slow reader. I thought it was so well written and truly informative. Since we live in Malibu we know many of the same people and have heard many of the stories (including our own). Mr. Kerbeck handled the subject perfectly in my opinion and with such insight and even a bit of humor. Hard to do with the subject matter. There are so many stories about this devastating fire. I felt like he picked some really good ones, (including his ...more
Tina Neyer
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kerbeck paints a compelling depiction of the Woolsey fire in Malibu last year, by presenting the stories of every day people.

While listening to NPR and the reports coming out of California today, I understand the plight of communities with a greater clarity.

People in the Midwest where I live today have no concept of the issues with such raging fires. But if you read this book it will personalize the situation. You wont be able to look at these fires in quite the same way after readi
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S. Asher
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is not just a book about one of the most damaging fires in California's history. Rather, it challenges our traditional understanding of the role of firefighters and opens up some questions that are not easily answered. I totally agree with what another reviewer says here, that Robert Kerbeck doesn't shy away from looking at the failings especially of the fire department but also of homeowners as well. But because he himself was/is a resident at "ground zero," he treats the material with a l ...more
Judy Carlisi
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Kerbeck crafts a vivid account of how the Woolsey fire and other historic fires changed everything for the people of Malibu. Prior to reading this book I knew nothing about Malibu: it's people or it's history. Now I have an idea of what homeowners and firefighters go through in order to save homes, animals, schools and communities. Regardless of your familiarity with Malibu and wildfires, you will come away with more understanding and compassion for those who have lived through the devastati ...more
Patti Mehring
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am living in a trailer on my burned out property. I always thought the next big disaster in Malibu would be an earthquake, maybe even a terrorist attack... not a fire. We’ve got that down. Or so I thought - apparently not. What went wrong? Kerbeck tells the story in a human way while at the same time uncovering facts that some are attempting to bury. Anyone who lives in a fire zone needs to read this book. Every Malibuite needs to read it too - educate yourself about fire, be inspired by the i ...more
Sandra O'Briant
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In California, we see people who’ve lost everything in rampaging fires on television, but Robert Kerbeck goes deep by sharing their personal stories: not just about their losses but their love stories, ties to the community, and what drew them to Malibu in the first place. In the process, we learn about the history of the area, and along with the author ask the question, where were the firefighters? His writing is straightforward and heartfelt. It's a hard book to put down.
Matthew Saver
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a MUST READ for those who lived through the Woolsey Fire and a MUST READ for those who don’t want to live through this again in the future. Kerbeck combines historical perspective, detailed fact-checking, and storytelling that is easily relatable. I have to admit to experiencing a level of trepidation (even though I know how it ends!), like reading a suspense novel. Who would have thought to discover a non-fiction page-turner?
Liz
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking look at a community that comes together in the face and aftermath of tragedy. Gripping and compassionate, full of unforgettable characters. This is the Malibu you've never seen. Read it and get organized. Climate change is real and it's coming to a neighborhood near you.
Debbie Lee
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kerbeck’s “Malibu Burning” presents a heroic true story that pulls you into the vortex of the Woolsey Fire. You will not forget the harrowing experience one family faced to save their home, nor the heartbreaking aftermath faced by the Malibu community.
Tiffany Hawk
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Vivid and gripping.
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Robert Kerbeck is the founder of the Malibu Writers Circle and a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Kerbeck’s work earned him a mentorship by the managing editor of the highly-esteemed Tin House.

Kerbeck’s first person account of the Woolsey Fire was read by over a million people as an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times.

His essays and short stories have been featured in the Atticus Review
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