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Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,000 ratings  ·  171 reviews
The harrowing story of the most destructive American wildfire in a century.

There is no precedent in postwar American history for the destruction of the town of Paradise, California. On November 8, 2018, the community of 27,000 people was swallowed by the ferocious Camp Fire, which razed virtually every home and killed at least 85 people. The catastrophe seared the American
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 5th 2020 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Elyse  Walters
Overdrive Library ebook/Library-sync Audiobook....
......voice narrator: T. Ryder Smith

They called it the perfect fire..... on November 8, 2018.
A horrific devastating destructive tragedy....that didn’t need to happen!

Memories of this fire are still painful to me—( only 2 years ago)....
It was impossible to get through this book and not shed tears. It wasn’t the first time I’ve cried over this tragedy, either.
It seems like just yesterday a comm
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gee and Anguiano, journalists for The Guardian, investigated the horrific California fire referred to as the Camp Fire that occurred on November 8th, 2018, killed 85 people and destroyed 90 percent of residents’ homes. The area was home to middle- and lower-income people that were priced out of the rest of California and often held highly individualistic beliefs.

The strength of the book are the individual stories of the people who endured the fire—the first responders who were quickly overwhelme
May 08, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The fact that this book is poorly written causes distraction in reading. Added to that, the author has an agenda to promote his view on "global warming" , his dislike of Trump and his admiration of Bernie Sanders. These views were not necessary to tell the story of these victims and this tragedy, but he added them anyway. ...more
Bob H
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a meticulously-researched account of a terrifying moment in U.S. history, and, perhaps, an augury of what climate change might look like. A dry California summer and fall, a powerful dry Diablo wind, and a powerline down -- and a Sierra foothill town wiped off the map in one apocalyptic morning. The West has had great fires before -- see The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America about such an event over a century ago -- but recently California has seen, in recent year ...more
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fire in Paradise is an account of the devastating wildfire that wiped out the town of Paradise California. This book was a personal one as many of my cousins grew up in Paradise and although it had been awhile since I had been the area, I recognized many of the descriptions of various places. Also having grown up in a national forest in California I saw firsthand how the changing conditions of climate change dried out the landscape making a tinder box around houses. This book is a tough one to r ...more
Isabelle reads a book a day because she has no friends
Jarring, especially as I read this while wildfires rage across the Pacific Northwest and I am surrounded every day by smoke heavy in the air. It’s been a long time since a book has impacted me so emotionally; I almost gave it 4 stars simply because I was so unsettled by what I had read.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was ok
I lived it and wanted to love the book but just didn’t.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Horrifying, riveting, tearful, did I mention HORRIFYING! I couldn't stop thinking about it when I was away from it, i listened to audio in the garden, crying in dawn's light as I watched the sky for any discoloration. I have lived rurally in ca for over thirty years, have seen many fires right at my property line, but of late they have become carnivorous monsters devouring at unimaginable speeds. We recently moved to the foothills, south of the paradise fire, I watched what looked like the plume ...more
Tom Scott
Aug 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Hmm, let me think, The Paradise Fire? Is that the one where the air was so bad in San Francisco that I couldn’t ride my bike for two weeks? Or maybe it was the “orange day” fire? Or maybe the one where our president suggested California should “rake the forest” (spoiler: it’s this one!). The point is, in the last 5 or so years the historically devastating fires in California have gotten so frequent that it’s hard to keep track of which one did what. (As I write this, the Caldor fire is roaring t ...more
Audrey H.
Disasters are fascinating to to read about; I think there's a mix of awe, horror, sympathy and anger that makes for a very compelling read. However, Gee and Anguiano's approach leaves me feeling a bit hit/miss with this piece.

I think they should have focused on a few number of people and followed their stories through a longer time frame, including more on the recovery. The authors talk about SO many people (literally 30-40, I'd guess), that it gets super confusing to remember who is who. In Er
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the first sign of fire to the aftermath of the blaze, Fire in Paradise puts a human face on a still recent tragedy. Throughout, the authors capture  the panic and confusion of a terrifying fire, as well as many beautiful moments in which, even in the midst of danger, the residents of Paradise help one another. Well written and carefully reported, the book is difficult to put down and very moving. Highly recommended!
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A huge thank you to WWNorton and GoodReads for this giveaway.

Going into this book I was only vaguely aware of the details of the fire that destroyed Paradise, having seen it on the news and feeling devastated for those involved, but not really knowing the whole story made all of the information presented in this well researched, well-written book, to be new and educational to me.

As I was reading, and as the flames crept closer and closer, and the authors wrote about the smell of the smoke and
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
About the massive Camp Creek Fire that wiped out the town of Paradise, CA in 2018 in a hellish inferno that burned over 200 square miles and killed 85 people. It’s nowhere near as good as other disaster tales such as Into Thin Air or Into the Wild or The Big Short or Bad Blood or Lone Survivor or ... (I think I like books about disasters).

This books feels like it was written as a service to the people who were displaced, rather than for readers who want deeper truths. That’s noble, but it makes
Sep 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fire in Paradise shattered my heart and confounded my brain and outraged my soul. When you learn of the total and utter devastation caused by 2018’s Camp Fire in Northern California, when you read the harrowing accounts of survivors, your heart will break. This book hits me extra hard because I grew up in rural Northern California - I lived out-of-state for the majority of the 2010s and only recently have I returned to my own beloved corner of California. It is with a shocked and sickened heart ...more
Aug 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
My mom left me a message at work, letting me know she was evacuating what would become the Camp Fire, but everything was fine, just a precaution. By the time I got home and could check in on the fire, it was a horrifying situation. She is elderly and doesn't drive, luckily she has a neighbor that swooped in and got her out. By some miracle, the fire line stopped about a quarter of a mile from her house. I don't normally read stuff like this, but felt compelled to read this one. It was really str ...more
Feb 20, 2021 rated it liked it
A grim recap of the reckoning facing California and the wider world in the face of radical, unchecked climate change.
Lisa Konet
I think this is was an important book to read as a Californian since July 2017 and as an American. Just like the attacks to the country on 9/11, I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the Camp Fire especially in Paradise. This is another natural devastating force of nature that needs to be taken seriously. I feel such sadness and empathy for people who weren't able to evacuate safely or died trying, my heart goes out to those families who lost a loved one.

The first hand accounts in t
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When I started reading Fire in Paradise last Friday, I had no idea I'd finish it before the weekend was out, but I couldn't put it down. This is a fascinating story, examining both the idiosyncratic conditions that brough the town of Paradise into being as well as how those conditions—many of which acted as the source of charm to its residents— turned it into a powder keg. The firsthand accounts are raw, the fear palpable as people recall a nightmarish inferno appearing seemingly from nowhere to ...more
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
I am really torn on how to rate this. One of my good friends lives in Paradise and lived through this horrific event. She sent so many pictures and videos, and I cried watching the video she recorded from her car as they evacuated; there really was literally fire everywhere. It terrified me for her even after I knew she was safe. So, this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

The fire was so massive and contains so many stories, that I expected more from the book. It came in at 229 pages. How is
Heather Caputo
While I really liked reading about the individual experiences of people who lived in Paradise and survived the fire or told stories of those who did not, I couldn't help but notice a left-leaning political bias. The authors put the blame on climate change and PG&E with comments making fun of our president at the time, Donald Trump, while heralding Newsome and Jerry Brown for their leadership in California. So many comments and little "jabs" at Trump and those who question climate change were ext ...more
Taylor McNair
May 30, 2020 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I really wanted to finish it, in fact, but I've been unable to. Living in San Francisco at the time of the Paradise Fire, I was prepared to read a new version of the story I saw unfolding in the papers and on the nightly news. I wanted gripping narrative to tell to the heartbreaking story of such a powerful tragedy that unfolded in Paradise, but this book just didn't capture the scale of it. I expected so much more. I was looking for something new here and didn ...more
This had moments, but overall did not really impress me. The book is part history of Paradise & wildfires, part human interest, part analysis of the aftermath of the Camp Fire. For the human interest aspect, there were people I liked learning about, but it felt like small glimpses into their lives listening on audiobook. I felt I learned more and was more emotionally moved by news articles and videos I saw on social media about this tragedy.

Thanks Libro FM for the ALC.
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot more about rural Californian life. Prior to this book, I had never conceptualized what life is like in an area that expects to be hit by fire at some point. It was particularly interesting to see how many residents were firefighters at some point.

Reading this, it seems shocking that the death toll was not higher. On that note, so many people survived because they happened on a fire truck or other rescue vehicles and managed to be picked up. It is insane to think that people were
Artemisia Hunt
Jul 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a California native, I’ve watched the news about wildfires in my state with growing concern. Though I don’t live in an immediate danger area, still I understand what drought is doing to so much of the terrain in CA. Water conservation has become a normal way of life here and of course rising temperatures are becoming too hard to ignore. So watching the scenes play out in the small NorCal town of Paradise almost 3 years ago felt like a terrible turning point in the increasing escalation of sev ...more
Kaoru Cruz
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very well researched book and it’s very close to home since Camp Fire only happened a few years ago and recently there was wildfire due to the lightening near Paradise and some residents had to evacuate again. I remember the air quality in NorCal was really bad during Camp Fire and watching horrific images on TV. The agency I work provides volunteers to work on the cleanup projects and they started phase 2 to clean out the tree debris. It takes really long time to clean and recover the town. I r ...more
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Audiobook Reviews in Five Minutes podcast review of Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy by Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, read by T. Ryder Smith:

Rate, review, and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, Breaker, GooglePodcasts, Overcast, PocketCasts, RadioPublic, and Spotify
Jordan Anderson
Fire in Paradise is a fascinating look at the worst fire in California history and one of the worst in U.S. history. This is made even worse when you consider that that took place only 2 years ago.

The authors do a great job of really highlighting just how devastating and horrific this fire truly was. Couple this with the documentary film on Netflix and the plethora of YouTube videos chronicling the event, and it’s almost hard to believe this happened so recently.

Weird writing with bizarre senten
John Bastin
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-books
The terrifying story of the most damaging fire in California in a century, and about the people affected, both those who were incinerated, those who decided they had to leave for a better, safer location, and those who remain to rebuild.
John Carey
Jul 29, 2021 rated it did not like it
My first 1 star in recent memory. It wasn't awful, but so many expectations went unmet. I was frustrated with the lack of attention to the central point of the story ... the tension between limiting and regulating energy in the face of climate change and serving a growing population.

I did learn a couple things. I was blown away by PG&E's well-documented history of criminal negligence and the background of energy deregulation (see Enron, 2000-2001 California Electricity Crisis, Trauner Fire and
Melody Warnick
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Gripping, terrifying, and tragic, with a larger story to tell about how climate change and corporate irresponsibility will continue to cause bigger and bigger wildfires in the West.
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Alastair Gee is an award-winning editor and reporter at the Guardian who has also written for The New Yorker online, the New York Times, and the Economist. Gee lives in New York City.

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“It was a charred wooden ember. She looked up. The horizon was red but the entire rest of the sky was black -- it was hypnotic and beautiful and very, very wrong.” 0 likes
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