For readers and viewers of The Perfect Storm,
opening this long-awaited new work by Sebastian Junger will be like stepping off the deck of the Andrea Gail
and into the inferno of a fire burning out of control in the steep canyons of Idaho. Here is the same meticulous prose brought to bear on the inner workings of a terrifying elemental force; here is a cast of characters risking everything in an effort to bring that force under control.
Few writers have been to so many desperate corners of the globe as has Sebastian Junger; fewer still have provided such starkly memorable evocations of characters and events. From the murderous mechanics of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone to the logic of guerrilla warfare in Afghanistan and the forensics of genocide in Kosovo, this new collection of Junger's nonfiction will take you places you wouldn't dream of going to on your own.
The events explored in Fire focus on "people confronting situations that could easily destroy them," and as he demonstrated in The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger is skilled at breaking such situations down to their core elements. In this exciting book, he 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 comments on the need for some to seek adventure as a means of escape from our relatively safe modern world: "Life in modern society is designed to eliminate as many unforeseen events as possible, and as inviting as that seems, it leaves us hopelessly underutilized.... Threats to our safety and comfort have been so completely wiped out that we have to go out of our way to create them." Junger has a keen grasp on this mentality (in fact, he exhibits it himself), and in Fire he clearly explains the fears and difficulties involved in reporting on dangerous events from foreign countries: "You have two weeks to understand a completely alien culture, find a story that no one has heard of, and run it into the ground. It never feels even remotely possible. But it is." And he has done it well in this thrilling book. --Shawn Carkonen