Monday, March 26, 2012

Fire by Sebastian Junger

Publisher: HarperAudio (2001)

Narrated by: Kevin Conway

Blurb from 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.

Every couple of books, I need some nonfiction and this was a good pick. In a series of essay-like writings, Sebastian Junger takes his readers along - to a fire line, on a modern-day whaling expedition, to the frontlines of Kosovo, quality time in Cyprus, at a diamond mine in Africa, and also as a hostage in Asia. Every once in a while I read a book and I shake my head; how could I get through this world knowing so little? I didn't know convicts were sometimes used to help put out wildfires, and sometimes died in them. I didn't know there were still those who hunted whales the old way, without modern harpoon equipment. I knew nothing of the Cyprus conflict (Now I can see you shaking your head in amazement at my ignorance).

Each of the essays in this book are told in an easy to grasp reporter style, even if your beginning knowledge is zero on the subject.

Kevin Conway told each story in a straight forward way, putting in humor, shock, disgust, and incredulity when needed.

+++: This book expanded my knowledge, easily accessible info, the chapters on fire-fighting, whaling, and hostage situation were the most interesting. The insights into the decades-old stalemate in Cyprus were thought-provoking.

--: I think the book would have held more interest if the non-war related essays were scattered in between the war essays.