Buying Options

Digital List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99

Save $5.96 (37%)

These promotions will be applied to this item:

Some promotions may be combined; others are not eligible to be combined with other offers. For details, please see the Terms & Conditions associated with these promotions.

You've subscribed to ! We will preorder your items within 24 hours of when they become available. When new books are released, we'll charge your default payment method for the lowest price available during the pre-order period.
Update your device or payment method, cancel individual pre-orders or your subscription at
Your Memberships & Subscriptions

Buy for others

Give as a gift or purchase for a team or group.
Learn more

Buying and sending eBooks to others

Select quantity
Buy and send eBooks
Recipients can read on any device

Additional gift options are available when buying one eBook at a time.  Learn more

These ebooks can only be redeemed by recipients in the US. Redemption links and eBooks cannot be resold.

Kindle app logo image

Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more

Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.

Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.

QR code to download the Kindle App

Loading your book clubs
There was a problem loading your book clubs. Please try again.
Not in a club? Learn more
Amazon book clubs early access

Join or create book clubs

Choose books together

Track your books
Bring your club to Amazon Book Clubs, start a new book club and invite your friends to join, or find a club that’s right for you for free.
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land by [Monica Hesse]

Follow the Author

Something went wrong. Please try your request again later.

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 694 ratings

New from Used from
Great on Kindle
Great Experience. Great Value.
iphone with kindle app
Putting our best book forward
Each Great on Kindle book offers a great reading experience, at a better value than print to keep your wallet happy.

Explore your book, then jump right back to where you left off with Page Flip.

View high quality images that let you zoom in to take a closer look.

Enjoy features only possible in digital – start reading right away, carry your library with you, adjust the font, create shareable notes and highlights, and more.

Discover additional details about the events, people, and places in your book, with Wikipedia integration.

Get the free Kindle app: Link to the kindle app page Link to the kindle app page
Enjoy a great reading experience when you buy the Kindle edition of this book. Learn more about Great on Kindle, available in select categories.

Help their budget go farther

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of July 2017: A passionate love affair is often described as an “inferno,” but in 2012 and 2013, boyfriend and girlfriend Charlie Smith and Tonya Bundick turned the metaphor into reality as they lit 70-plus fires in derelict buildings across Virginia’s Accomack County. Monica Hesse’s spare but memorable prose sketches the true story of a once-prosperous county now in sharp economic decline, its derelict buildings easy targets for Smith and Bundick. But Accomack County’s plunging fortunes is the simplistic explanation for the arson epidemic, and Hesse pushes that aside to plumb the complicated personal relationships, the tight-knit community, and the stories told in small towns that can shape a person’s destiny just as surely as one’s actions. When Smith and Bundick set fire after fire—sometimes several a night—the exhausted volunteer firefighters in Accomack County band together to stop the arsonists putting a match to their way of life. Hesse can do with a handful of words what other writers do with paragraphs, and as she traces the intersecting paths of the amateur arsonists and the authorities determined to capture them, she reveals that every crime has its own personal, sometimes inscrutable DNA. --Adrian Liang, The Amazon Book Review --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


"American Fire is an excellent summer vacation companion. It has all the elements of a lively crime procedural: courtroom drama, forensic trivia, toothsome gossip, vexed sex. It also happens to be a very good portrait of a region in economic decline. . . . As with “S-Town” and the best episodes of “This American Life,” Hesse has managed to wring tension and excitement out of a story with a known ending."
Jennifer Senior, New York Times

"The propulsive pleasure of
American Fire rests in author Monica Hesse's decision not to force a thing. The book has the brisk diligence of big-city journalism (Hesse writes for the Washington Post) and the languid chattiness of the small town where she lived while researching it. . . . Hesse gathers the pieces but leaves connections to the reader. When they snap together, the feeling is a bit like gazing upon a blaze you've just lit."
Karl Vick, Time

"Hesse, who covered the arsons for
The Washington Post, is an ace reporter, but she’s an even better storyteller. American Fire is as propulsive as a crime thriller. A-"
Tina Jordan, Entertainment Weekly

American Fire, journalist Monica Hesse faces . . . quandaries of interpretation, faulty memory and lies, and deals eloquently with the he-said-she-said elements of her story. . . . What emerges is a vivid depiction of a community that is struggling economically in present-day America, but is rich in its human connections."
Ilana Masad,

"A brisk, captivating and expertly crafted reconstruction of a community living through a time of fear, confusion and danger. . . . Masterful."
Scott W. Berg, Washington Post

"One of the year's best and most unusual true-crime books."
Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor

"Mesmerizing. . . . Hesse recounts the fires and their investigation and the subsequent trials with cinematic immediacy."
Jonathan Miles, Garden & Gun

"Accomack County, Virginia, is utterly unique, but not completely atypical of America’s forgotten places: bypassed by progress on the wrong side of Chesapeake Bay, dotted with houses rotting into literal tinder. Hesse, a
Washington Post reporter, finds true-crime gold here . . . . Hesse forgoes paint-by-numbers suspense, revealing the culprits early on before backing up into their hard-knock love story, their eventual arrest, and perceptive snapshots of an unusually vivid corner of drug-racked Red America."
Boris Katchka, Vulture

American Fire is not only a twisted love story but also a portrait of Accomack County, Virginia, a once-wealthy farming community crumbling from economic hardship."
Nora Horvath, Real Simple

"Hesse enters the compelling narrative with restraint in probing, essayistic analyses. She tells the story of the fires and of the Eastern Shore and the people she got to know there with an earned familiarity that, at the same time, speaks of the unknowability of a vast, rapidly changing nation."
Annie Bostrom, Booklist, starred review

"A captivating narrative about arson, persistent law enforcers, an unlikely romantic relationship, and a courtroom drama. . . . Throughout, the author offers a nuanced portrait of a way of life unknown to most who have never resided on or visited the Eastern Shore. A true-crime saga that works in every respect."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse has created a near-masterpiece in American Fire. This true crime book ― about a series of arsons on the rural Virginia coast and the Bonnie-and-Clyde duo who committed them ― is not just about the crimes themselves, but about the community those crimes affected. It's well-written and eye-opening, and I couldn't put it down. For fans of Hillbilly Elegy and In Cold Blood."
Annie Butterworth Jones, Tallahassee Democrat

Washington Post reporter Hesse leads readers on an extended tour of a bizarre five-month crime spree in rural Accomack County, Va.: a series of over 80 arsons, of predominantly abandoned buildings, committed by a local couple. . . . A page-turning story of love gone off the rails."
Publishers Weekly

American Fire is a wonderful book of page-turning, true-crime reportage, exquisitely reported with both humanity and humor. Books like this remind us, in an uncertain time, of what journalism is supposed to look like."
Nick Reding, author of Methland

"America in decline, a love gone berserk, and fire…lots and lots of it. If you pick up this book and open it to the first page, I double-dog dare you to put it down."
Dennis Covington, author of Salvation on Sand Mountain

"A rare combination of reportorial know-how and literary flair,
American Fire is a page-turner. Crimes and chaos, detectives and firefighters, headlines and red herrings, and it all boils down to a Gothic love story gone wrong. You need time to investigate a story like this, following the police leads all the way to the hidden-in-plain-sight, off-kilter individuals generating the mayhem; you need space to tell a story like this, fact-based and evocative. People who think they don’t like nonfiction will devour this book. People who love nonfiction will love it, too."
Melissa Fay Greene, author of Praying for Sheetrock and The Underdogs --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B01M3QH76T
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Liveright; Reprint edition (July 11, 2017)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 11, 2017
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 7679 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 259 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 694 ratings

About the author

Follow authors to get new release updates, plus improved recommendations.
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Die vielfach ausgezeichnete Bestsellerautorin Monica Hesse stammt aus Illinois und ist außerdem Journalistin bei der Washington Post. Sie lebt mit ihrem Mann und einem verrückten Hund in Washington. »Das Mädchen im blauen Mantel«, ihr erster Roman, der auf Deutsch erschien, stand auf der New-York-Times-Bestsellerliste und erhielt zahlreiche Preise, darunter den renommierten Edgar Award in der Kategorie »Junge Erwachsene«, und wurde von der Jugendjury für den Deutschen Jugendliteraturpreis 2019 nominiert.

© Autorenfoto: privat

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
694 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 7, 2022
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on January 12, 2018
2 people found this helpful
Report abuse
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 17, 2017
33 people found this helpful
Report abuse

Top reviews from other countries

Robert F. Steadman
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and very readable. Highly recommmended.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 9, 2019
Gil D. Age
3.0 out of 5 stars More a story about Virginia than all of America
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on March 14, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 24, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous - best narrative non-fiction book I've read in ages
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on July 27, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars Stranger than Fiction
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on September 5, 2020
Report an issue

Does this item contain inappropriate content?
Do you believe that this item violates a copyright?
Does this item contain quality or formatting issues?