On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters


Desmond, Matthew. 2007. On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
On the Fireline: Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters


Winner of the Max Weber Award
Winner of the Herfurth Award
C. Wright Mills Award Finalist

Publisher's Abstract. 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.

"Theoretical insight after theoretical insight, . . . a suburb ethnography and a significant contribution." ~ Diane Vaughan, Contemporary Sociology

"Because of its captivating prose . . . and its masterful crafting of a French tradition in sociology . . . the book may become an instant hit in mainstream sociology. It may even be fast-tracked to 'classic' status." ~ Eugene Rosa, Science

"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

"An important book. . . . Desmond deploys [a] complex argument with persuasive grounding and enviable control. We are in a stronger position to think about risk because of his efforts." ~ Karl Weick, Administrative Science Quarterly


Last updated on 12/03/2012