On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters

Paperback | August 1, 2009

byMatthew Desmond

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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

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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 s...

Matthew Desmond is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.69 × 5.69 × 1.3 inPublished:August 1, 2009Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226144097

ISBN - 13:9780226144092

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction 
    
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
Conclusion   
 
Appendix: Between Native and Alien   
Glossary 
Notes    
Acknowledgments   
Index

Editorial Reviews

"[The book is] a highly readable, at times funny, very insightful, Bourdieu-inspired ethnography of country masculinity, and as such very useful for courses on masculinity. It is a fine example of how to apply structuration theory and, therefore, a good resource for classes in social theory. It also offers a penetrating examination of the logic of bureaucratic organization and the way it creates a common sense world in which blame is always individualized. . . . A thick and rich take on a particular version of rural, masculine, working-class culture in the United States and how it fits with an institutional setting that requires young men to do dangerous work."