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
From Publishers Weekly
Danger junkies rejoice! The Perfect Storm king returns with no, not a new booklength narrative, but a collection of previously published magazine articles. Junger spent the last few years documenting some of the world's toughest places: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia, as well as nonmilitary hot spots like American wildfires. His reporting on wartime atrocities for Vanity Fair is well known, and his wilderness stories for adventure magazines like Outside and Men's Health have brought him an enormous extra-book readership. Junger's newest can be considered a sort of early Greatest Hits volume, wherein Junger's disaster-zone reporting will whet the appetites of risk voyeurs everywhere. Consider his interview with Afghan guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud ("After we'd spent half an hour ducking the shells, the commander said he'd just received word that Taliban troops were preparing to attack the position, and it might be better if we weren't around for it"), or his Kosovo klatch with Serbian paramilitaries ("The men grinned broadly at us. One of them wasn't holding a gun in his hands. He was holding a huge double-bladed ax."). But Junger is more than a dispassionate adventure-monger; he is an observer awed by the courage of "people confronting situations that could easily destroy them." Whether describing the trials of airborne forest firefighters or the occupational hazards of old-fashioned harpoon-and-rope whale hunting, Junger challenges readers to reconsider their fondness for ease: "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. And that is where the idea of 'adventure' comes in." (Oct.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.