American Fire

Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land

Combining the reportage with the eye-opening insights, American Fire is the tragedy of our time.

By Monica Hesse Read by Tanya Eby History - United States / Nonfiction / Social Science / True Crime English, Unabridged 7h 28m Sell Sheet
Format Release Date List Price Your Price ISBN
6 Audio CDs July 11, 2017 $49.99 $39.99 9781520075846 Add to Cart
1 MP3 CDs July 11, 2017 $29.99 $19.99 9781520075884 Add to Cart
							Shocked by a five-month arson spree that left rural Virginia reeling, Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse drove down to Accomack County to cover the trial of Charlie Smith, who pled guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But Charlie wasn't lighting fires alone: he had an accomplice, his girlfriend Tonya Bundick. Through her depiction of the dangerous shift that happened in their passionate relationship, Hesse brilliantly brings to life the once-thriving coastal community and its distressed inhabitants, who had already been decimated by a punishing economy before they were terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. Incorporating this drama into the long-overlooked history of arson in the United States, American Fire re-creates the anguished nights that this quiet county spent lit up in flames, mesmerizingly evoking a microcosm of rural America - a land half gutted before the fires even began.

Amazon Best Book of July 2017; Recommended Summer Reading - TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Real Simple, Elle; Selected for NPR's Best Books of 2017; Nominated for the 2018 Edgar Award. - Awards

"Narrator Tanya Eby tells a fascinating story. Her respectful approach mirrors Hesse’s treatment of the arsonists, who are presented as emotionally complex and morally gray." - Audiofile

"A captivating story about arson, persistent law enforcers, an unlikely romantic relationship, and a courtroom drama..." - Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Hesse enters the compelling narrative with restraint in probing, essayistic analyses. She tells the story of the fires and of the Eastern Shore and the people she got to know there with an earned familiarity that, at the same time, speaks of the unknowability of a vast, rapidly changing nation. - Booklist, Starred Review

"...A page-turning story of love gone off the rails." - Publishers Weekly

" excellent summer vacation companion..." - The New York Times

"...a vivid depiction of a community that is struggling economically in present-day America, but is rich in its human connections." - NPR

"The new book by Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse is one of the year's best and most unusual true-crime books." - Christian Science Monitor

"Hesse, who covered the arsons for The Washington Post, is an ace reporter, but she’s an even better storyteller. American Fire is as propulsive as a crime thriller. A-" - Entertainment Weekly

"...a page-turner of a true-crime book..." - Minneapolis Star Tribune