Read American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land Online Free - 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. Washington Post reporter Monica Hesse first drove down to the reeling county to cover a hearing for Charlie Smith, a struggling mechanic who upon his capture had promptly pleaded guilty to sixty-seven counts of arson. But as Charlie’s confession unspooled, it got deeper and weirder. He wasn’t lighting fires alone; his crimes were galvanized by a surprising love story. Over a year of investigating, Hesse uncovered the motives of Charlie and his accomplice, girlfriend Tonya Bundick, a woman of steel-like strength and an inscrutable past. Theirs was a love built on impossibly tight budgets and simple pleasures. They were each other’s inspiration and escape…until they weren’t.
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.
|Title||:||American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land|
|Number of Pages||:||288 pages|
August 31, 2017
I would rate this book 3.5 stars.
This book, American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land written by 'Washington Post' reporter, Monica Hesse seemed like a good choice for me. I enjoy reading true crime books and as an added bonus, this one appeared to suggest a causal relationship bet...
July 30, 2017
This is fascinating journalism, telling the story of a 2012/2013 crime spree in rural Virginia where arsonists started 80+ fires over a period of a few months. All were set in abandoned buildings, in a struggling county that had no shortage of abandoned buildings. Some nights there were...
July 19, 2017
As the cover of American Fire states, this book is about love, arson, and life in a vanishing land. The dangerous duo set 67 fires - that's six-Seven! in a 5 month span in Accomack County, Virginia. In American Fire, the scene is set well and the story is well-told.
I was able to hear Monica Hess...
October 11, 2017
"Things [in people] were broken early on" (paraphrased p. 184), and the troubles and stresses of life exacerbate the problem(s). "Maybe some people were affected more than others, in ways nobody ever could have predicted." (p. 181)
For the residents of Accomack County, the arsons happening all aro...
August 25, 2017
Accomack County was in ruin. The economy was down, few inhabitants, of a cluster of small towns, had much - not much money, not many possessions, and even less hope.
For 5 1/2 months, in 2013, no one could catch an arsonist in Accomack County Virginia. Local police, fire fighters, and inve...
August 09, 2017
Ever since I inhaled the S-Town podcast in two days, I’ve been looking to recapture that weird, can’t-look-away fascination I felt as I listened to John B. McLemore’s story unfold. American Fire comes pretty dang close.
The basic story is this: a few years ago, someone started lighting abandoned b...
April 17, 2017
True crime lovers will devour this story of how a small town in Virginia was almost decimated by deliberately set fires. 67 fires in just 5 months. 67. American Fire is written with a reporter's eye for details, with eyewitness accounts that makes for a combustible read. It's not why the fires ar...
September 10, 2017
Because the first half of the book was interesting but written in dry- "he arrived and this is what happened etc." form- I was all ready to say it was a straight 3 star.
And then I got to the second half of the book (after the photos in my copy) and I changed my rating.
It's an excellent set of "e...
August 03, 2017
3.5 Thoughts soon.
September 26, 2017
Starting early November 2012 ,and going through several months, over 60 fires were purposely set on the rural Eastern Shore area of Virginia. These fires consumed abandoned houses and uninhabited buildings in Accomack County. The region was suffering from hard economic times so there were literal...