On the Burning Edge

On the Burning Edge

A Fateful Fire and the Men Who Fought It

Book - 2015
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Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, 2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780553392135
Branch Call Number: 363.379 Dick
Characteristics: xv, 277 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps (some color) ; 25 cm


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Jan 02, 2016

What a mess of a book... pretty much typical for an Outside contributor's book. Random facts explored in detail, to no point. Dialogue that goes nowhere. A use of language and syntax that could, charitably, be called creative.
My favourite so far: a paragraph that begins "and then the propane tank exploded." The author devotes the rest of the paragraph describing the function of a relief valve, and how it keeps a propane tank from exploding. So to summarize the paragraph:
"The propane tank exploded. No it didn't."
The language is evocative, but if words have a meaning, it is because we all agree on that meaning. Mr. Dickman seems to have his own private lexicon. He also quotes dialogue and conversations between people who were dead when he started the book. There were some survivors who knew the deceased, but the detailed - and trivial - conversations offered up here can only be fabrications.
The big takeaway: as with burning fossil fuels, we discovered our mistake long past the time we could do anything about it. The relentless sprawl of McMansions into landscapes that should never have been opened up, combined with a century of well-meaning but mistaken fire suppression add up to a slow-motion disaster which will unfold over the coming decades.
I actually learned a bit about fire and firefighting, but it was tough sledding all the way.

Oct 15, 2015

after reading this book i still don't have any idea of what would be like to fight a 2000 degree wall of fire would be like. I picture a fire burning in a straight line or from a living room up to the bedrooms. The fires that we have now are apparently like nothing we have seen before, winding, twisting, jumping, higher than Mt. Everest spreading faster than you can out drive them.
Seems like something needs to change in the way we manage land and forests, build near undefensible areas and have resources to fight them. 19 brave heroes need not have lost their lives if we(collectively) had been smarter.


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