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On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  68 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In this rugged account of a rugged profession, Matthew Desmond explores the heart and soul of the wildland firefighter. Having joined a firecrew in Northern Arizona as a young man, Desmond relates his experiences with intimate knowledge and native ease, adroitly balancing emotion with analysis and action with insight. On the Fireline shows that these firefighters aren’t th ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by University of Chicago Press (first published 2007)
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3.88  · 
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 ·  68 ratings  ·  7 reviews


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Tim Neale
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Understandably, this book is not as good a 'read' as Evicted. It is based on Desmond's Masters thesis and has some of the staging of a thesis throughout. Nonetheless, the examples and narratives are well-chosen, and it wears its grounding in sociology/scholarship lightly enough for a broad spectrum of readers.
Brian
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good ethnography of wildland firefighters, though could have used some more editing in places. Definitely felt like more of a PhD dissertation than Evicted.
Brayden
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I normally don't review my "work books" on here because I figure my friends don't care to read them, but this one might be interesting to a lot of you, whether you're sociologists or not. The book details what it's like to be a wildland firefighter in Arizona, describing the risks and physical demands of the job and explaining how firefighters overcome the uncertainty of the job to put themselves in dangerous situations. Desmond describes the inner life of the firefighter as being guided by a "c ...more
Dirk
May 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the best ethnography I have been reading in recent years. Desmond spend more than 2 years in the fire service and developed an ethnography that adds to various areas of research, including the sociology of organisations, the work I risky domains, addresses the question why people take on life threatening jobs as well as the current debate about causality and ethnography. The book is very well written and highly recommendable also to those working in the fire service and managing risky or ...more
Alexis
Oct 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: schoolreferences
This was very well done. If there is anyone out there who would like to really understand fire this is the book to read. The author captures all the little nuances that are so many times lost by Maclean and other fire authors because they have not fought fire.

There were a few things that were definitely crew-specific, and he didn't point those out and seems to believe that that is the way all fire crews think and are, which I have seen different. But again, overall it was very authentic and pai
...more
Audrey
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing.. You can tell this author put there heart into writing this book. I highly recommend it. I definitely will be reading more of Matthew Desmond's work.
Molly
Jul 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
at least it wasn't too preachy.
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Matthew Desmond is an American sociologist and urban ethnographer. He is currently the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and Co-Director of the Justice and Poverty Project. The author of several books, including the award-winning book, "On the Fireline," and "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," Desmond was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" gran ...more
“Wildland firefighters do not enjoy the cultural prestige that structural firefighters do. They do not wax their fire engines and cruise down the local parade route, lights flashing; they are not the subject of countless popular books and movies; major politicians do not honor their sacrifices on the Senate floor or from the Rose Garden; they do not have bagpipe bands, fancy equipment, enduring icons, or other signifiers of honor verifying the importance of their activity.” 4 likes
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