On the Fireline
Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters
In this rugged account of a rugged profession, Matthew Desmond explores the heart and soul of the wildland firefighter. Having joined a firecrew in Northern Arizona as a young man, Desmond relates his experiences with intimate knowledge and native ease, adroitly balancing emotion with analysis and action with insight. On the Fireline shows that these firefighters aren’t the adrenaline junkies or romantic heroes as they’re so often portrayed.
An immersion into a dangerous world, On the Fireline is also a sophisticated analysis of a high-risk profession—and a captivating read.
“Gripping . . . a masterful account of how young men are able to face down wildfire, and why they volunteer for such an enterprise in the first place.”—David Grazian, Sociological Forum
“Along with the risks and sorrow, Desmond also presents the humor and comaraderie of ordinary men performing extraordinary tasks. . . . A good complement to Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire. Recommended.”—Library Journal
Part One History and Place
1. Country Masculinity
2. The Sanctuary of the Forest
Part Two Training and Discipline
3. A Joke between Brothers
4. Real Firefighters Drive Green Engines
5. Learning and Burning
6. Taking the "Wild" Out of Wildfire
Part Three Fire and Death
7. The Beaver Creek Fire
8. The Incompetent Dead
Appendix: Between Native and Alien
ASA/Occupations & Organizations Section: ASA-Max Weber Award
"granted for an outstanding contribution to scholarship on organizations, occupations, or work in a book published within the last three years"