American Fire

American Fire

Love, Arson, and Life in A Vanishing Land

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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"The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn't stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate--there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning. The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America....Though it's hard to believe today, one hundred years ago Accomack was the richest rural county in the nation. Slowly it's been drained of its industry--agriculture--as well as its wealth and population. In an already remote region, limited employment options offer little in the way of opportunity. A mesmerizing and crucial panorama with nationwide implications, American Fire asks what happens when a community gets left behind. Hesse brings to life the Eastern Shore and its inhabitants, battling a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. The result evokes the soul of rural America--a land half gutted before the fires even began." -- provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Liveright Publishing Corporation, [2017]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781631490514
1631490516
Branch Call Number: 364.164 HES
Characteristics: 255 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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LPL_LizS Nov 03, 2017

A fascinating look into the daily lives of citizens of rural Accomack County, Virginia who are trying to deal with a devastating string of crimes. Hesse captures the arson in great journalistic detail, weaving a lot of information into a compelling narrative. These fires illuminate the deep struggles of a small community with a dying economy, where everyone is just looking for a better life.

t
topekasue
Oct 31, 2017

Reads as one would expect since it's a journalist's expanded writings of a featured crime story. Well-told tale of a Virginia county forced to adjust life to a never-ending series of arson fires that take a tremendous toll on all its residents, including the arsonists.

m
MplsTA
Oct 22, 2017

The story isn't just about the many fires but the person(s) responsible for setting them. What is most amazing is the "why". It's a twisted and sad story but compelling.

Cynthia_N Aug 23, 2017

It was astonishing to read how many fires were set before the culprits were caught. There were people camping at abandoned home sites and cameras set up but it still took months before they were able to catch the guilty parties. Good read!

AL_KATI May 11, 2017

Sort of like "Hillbilly Elegry" but with arson. Great if you like true crime and social history. Read in a single night.

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