Gee and Anguiano have a clear affection for the area’s 'sun-speckled, dirt-road lifestyle' and its idiosyncratic inhabitants ... The heart of the book, though, is the individual stories of bravery and tragedy that played out in Paradise and its neighboring communities as the Camp Fire raged ... The horror of the fire’s relentless advance is viscerally evoked, although the details sometimes verge on unbearable ... The authors temper the horror with stories of heroism and rescue ... It was unnerving, if also perversely captivating, to read this account of the Paradise disaster while in the midst of our current, slower-moving catastrophe. There are uncanny moments of resonance ... has the narrative propulsion and granular detail of the best breaking-news disaster journalism; while the authors include some historical context, they largely refrain from in-depth analysis or attempts to draw broader conclusions from the tragedy. The main takeaway from their book is sobering: As many parts of the world get hotter and drier, we will likely see more fires as destructive as the one in Paradise.
... a book about a California calamity that speaks to our present moment ... For those who have seen the Netflix documentary Fire in Paradise, which included cellphone video shot by fleeing residents, some of this will be familiar. But the authors do what that documentary couldn’t: They paint a picture of the lives of these people and their town before the fire came.
Drawing heavily on the powerful interviews [the authors] conducted at the time and in the stunned aftermath, they have created a gripping account of the fire and how it affected the community. The narrative is bolstered by regional history, an awareness of the increasing prevalence of California wildfires, and the culpability of the giant power company, Pacific Gas and Electric, in the state’s unfolding climate crisis. By providing readers with such an intimate chronicle of the fire and curating a nearly overwhelming cascade of stories from those at the center of the disaster, the authors do an important job of establishing a time line of the destruction. There will likely be many more books about the Paradise fire, especially investigations into PG&E’s role, but Fire in Paradise is a powerful start.