A SEASON OF FIRE: Four Months on the Firelines of America's Forests

Douglas Gantenbein, Author . Putnam/Tarcher $24.95 (292p) ISBN 978-1-58542-176-3

In this thoroughly engaging and thought-provoking book, Gantenbein, a writer for Sports Illustrated and Outside magazines, traveled from state to state covering major fires during the summer of 2001 to show "the strengths and weaknesses of how wildland fire is fought in the Western United States." Gantenbein has the knack for presenting complex material in a direct and exciting style, and as he explains the intricate differences among fires in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and Montana, he conveys an amazing amount of material related to fires and firefighting: the use of Pulaskis, "the combination hoe and pick that is the essential tool in the firefighting arsenal"; why the Ponderosa pine is more dangerous than the Douglas fir; and the key differences between the physically exhausting work of smokejumpers and the elite hotshots, who dig the fireline. Gantenbein's detailed observations about both the science and the economics of fires and firefighting help him forcefully demonstrate that "the continuing war on forest fires is a waste of time, money and lives," and that new approaches to thinking about fires are needed to "get beyond the current poisoned atmosphere between environmentalists, the Forest Service, and the logging industry." (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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