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The Fire Line: The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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"Meticulously researched and as dramatic as any thriller, Santos's account of the 2013 Arizona wildfire that killed 19 firefighters will keep you on the edge of your seat and break your heart."
- People Magazine
"In this riveting and poignant narrative, Fernanda Santos introduces the reader to a brave band of men, most of them in their 20's, who battle destructive wildfires... A gripping account of one of the nation's most deadly wildfires and an inspiring look at the men who put their lives on the line and the loved ones they left behind." - The Associated Press
“In Fernanda Santos’ expert hands, the story of 19 men and a raging wildfire unfolds as a riveting, pulse-pounding account of an American tragedy; and also as a meditation on manhood, brotherhood and family love. The Fire Line is a great and deeply moving book about courageous men and women.”
- Héctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free.
"The Fire Line is as powerful and consuming as the elemental force at the heart of this real-life drama.Fernanda Santos has captured fire on paper, turning painstaking reporting into a gripping narrative. The brave men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots have received a tribute they so richly deserve."
- Mitchell Zuckoff, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi
"In her gripping account of the Yarnell Hill tragedy of 2013, Fernanda Santos skillfully strikes a balance of wildfire science and unfolding human drama. As fast-paced as the disaster it covers, The Fire Line kept me turning pages, and left me with indelible images long after the fire was out. A deeply respectful tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots and firefighters everywhere."
- Linda Greenlaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Hungry Ocean
“June 30, 2013. Propane tanks explode, ash darkens the sun, and twenty firefighters from an elite crew gear up to do battle. Fernanda Santos’s account of this extraordinary and deadly day is an ace reporter’s bulletin from hell. Propulsive, gripping, and heartbreaking, The Fire Line tracks the shifting inferno, details the “savage science” of fighting wild fires, and charts the lives and loves of the heroes of the day, the Granite Mountain Hot Shots. In evoking the bonds among these men, Santos uses her gifts to sift triumph from tragedy.”
- Vicki Croke, New York Times bestselling author of Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II
“The tight knit Hotshots included likely heroes, such as Marines, and unlikely ones, like convicted felons. A riveting account of a hellish day.”
―New York Post
“[Santos] relates this affecting story with respect, momentum and surprising suspense, considering the outcome is known from the beginning… Santos brings immediacy and familiarity to a larger-than-life disaster with quiet admiration and loyalty to truth. By the time the Granite Mountain Hotshots, men now familiar to the reader, go missing, the tragedy of these losses is deeply felt.”
―Shelf Awareness Pro
“In her fine-grained style, Santos portentously documents their activities the night before they marched into action. Switching to the enemy, Santos explains forest-fire behavior, accelerating the drama by tracking that particular blaze… A conscientious and complete researcher, Santos will leave readers awed, somber, and moved.”
“[Santos] makes a valuable contribution to the literature of disaster preparedness and management―and given that wildfire is a growing problem in the ever more arid West, that literature needs all the good work it can get.”
About the Author
Fernanda Santos covers Arizona and New Mexico as the Phoenix bureau chief for The New York Times. The Fire Line is her first book.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unlike one of the other reviewer's, I didn't read any political agenda in this book. It is a known fact among firefighters that fires are becoming larger and more intense due to a number of factors such as drought, fuel loading and disease. Urban interface has compounded the problem.
I will say that as a supervisor, being a seasonal employee for the federal government (USFS- I was a sawyer, engine captain and squad boss) I was only making just over $15 an hour with no benefits other than sickleave and a little bit of vacation time, and that is typical for seasonal employees. When we are injured, unless we can afford our own insurance, our medical bills are paid by Worker's Comp. which is a difficult process. Fortunately for me I am a schoolteacher, so I had my own medical insurance. This book not only puts a real person with the names of the fallen, it points out those gaps in benefits for firefighters. While we are aware of the situation, no one ever believes it can happen to them, and we accept that risk and relatively low pay because we are doing what we love, working outdoors.
Santos did a good job of researching and understanding fire behavior and the operations of firefighting . As a firefighter, there were some issues however, with tools and gear which I noticed that a layman wouldn't. Things such as her description of drip torches having an igniter to light them (they don't), we don't use picks and axes we use pulaski's (as she described), rhinos, shovels and many other tools, but not picks and axes in fire line construction. Our boots (White's and Nick's) are certainly not insulated as she stated several times. They're made out of thick leather with hard rubber Vibram soles but your feet still get extremely hot inside when you're working the fire. To her credit, she did a very good job of trying to understand the complex world and equipment of wildland fire.
The question that still remain unanswered, but the answer is implied or speculated as to why they left the safety of the black. The answer to that question died with them in that brushy basin. I appreciate the fact that Santos doesn't look for blame. Wildland fire is chaotic and constantly evolving and situational awareness is crucial on all levels in order to stay relatively safe. Relative being the key word.
For me, it was emotionally difficult to read this book, because I could identify so closely with the young men who perished, and the struggle of the families that they left behind. It is important that their story be told and an awareness made among the public as to the difficult job of the wildland firefighter and the sacrifices made by their families. When you see these dirty exhausted men and women in your grocery store grabbing snacks, or fueling up their vehicles headed off to the next fire, give them your thanks.
This is a good book and I highly recommend it.
Buy and read the book. You will be glad you did.
This book brought back all of the feelings and questions I had almost four years ago when I heard about the tragedy. It was an honor to learn more about these men and their families. I respect and admire the authors choice to not delve too deeply into assigning blame, nor to go into the details of the policies and politics surrounding an incident such as this one. The focus is where it should be, on the men and women whose lives were lost or forever changed. It is a very readable, comprehensive account of the people and events surrounding the tragedy of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, who like me, is interested in the details surrounding tragedies such as this. I learn from them professionally, but more importantly personally. Each one gives me hope for humanity and the knowledge that there are ordinary people who step up and answer the call to action when necessity demands it.