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Fire Weather

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Fire Weather by John Vaillant
Hardcover $32.50
Jun 06, 2023 | ISBN 9781524732851

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“Riveting, spellbinding, astounding on every page. John Vaillant is one of the great poetic chroniclers of the natural world, and here he captures the majesty and horror of one of its great disasters—and what made it tragically possible.” 
—David Wallace-Wells, #1 bestselling author of The Uninhabitable Earth

“In John Vaillant’s vivid anatomy of the apocalyptic Fort McMurray inferno, the histories of humankind’s ever-accelerating consumption of fossil fuel, and of our ever-increasing vulnerability to extreme wildfire, converge with the relentlessness of fate — and the urgency of prophecy.” 
—Philip Gourevitch, bestselling author of We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families

“A compulsively readable journey into our fiery times.  At the center, Vaillant gives us fire itself as a character—fast, hungry, and evolving to shape the warming decades to come. You might never hear an engine or watch a bonfire the same way again.”
—Bathsheba Demuth, author of Floating Coast

“The Fort McMurray fire was a vortex of people, ideas, institutions, forest, oil, city, and wind, the quirky and the existential, all mutating under the wanton impress of the Anthropocene Age.  Fire Weather offers a compelling account of that tragedy, and a reimagining of a pyric infection that threatens to remake the planet.”
—Stephen Pyne, author of The Pyrocene

Fire Weather is a towering achievement: an immense work of research, reflection and imagination that will, I believe, come to be seen as a landmark in non-fiction reportage on the Anthropocene, or what Vaillant here calls ‘the Petrocene’ — that epoch defined primarily by humanly enhanced combustion. Fire Weather is extraordinary in terms of its scope and range; it also sings and surprises at the level of the sentence. It grips like a philosophical thriller, warns like a beacon, and shocks to the core.” 
—Robert Macfarlane, bestselling author of Underland

“Searing…Vaillant concedes that we’ve made Earth a fire planet. His robust and vivid writing, detailed reporting, and urgent concern for the environment make for sizzling reading.”

“A gripping account of the May 2016 fire that engulfed the city of Fort McMurray in the Canadian province of Alberta, destroying thousands of homes and forcing the evacuation of 88,000 people. [Vaillant’s] vivid description of the conflagration…is set against the Dantean backdrop of Fort McMurray’s oil-sands mining industry, one of the dirtiest outposts of the fossil fuels sector….Vaillant’s exploration of this material is rich and illuminating, and his prose punchy and cinematic….The result is an engrossing disaster tale with a potent message.”
Publishers Weekly

“There’s a lot of good Elizabeth Kolbert–level popular science writing here along with grittier portraits of the lives of the people who make their living among the tar sands and scrub. Vaillant…asks interesting questions…Perhaps the one most worthy of pondering being a deceptively simple one: ‘Is fire alive?’ A timely, well-written work of climate change reportage.”

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