cover image FIRE


Sebastian Junger, . . Norton, $23.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-393-01046-6

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.)