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Working Fire: The Making of an Accidental Firemanby Zac Unger
"Unger's sweaty-palmed memoir, Working Fire, tells of his switch from Ivy Leaguer destined for a life sentence in academia to hard-baked Oakland firefighter. The book as a whole...sucks you in. And like the best adventure tales — from Jon Krakauer's to Sebastian Junger's — it steps out of the way and lets you go through the adventure yourself." Daniel Torday, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Zac Unger didn't feel like much of a firefighter at first. Most of his fellow recruits seemed to have planned for the job all their lives; he was an Ivy League grad responding to a help-wanted ad at an Oakland bus stop. He couldn't keep his boots shined, and he looked horrible in his uniform. Working Fire is the story of how, from this unlikely beginning, Zac Unger came to feel at home among this close-knit tribe, came to master his work's demands, and came to know what it is to see the city of Oakland through a firefighter's eyes.
From the materials of his day's work — the harrowing calls and the hilarious, the moments of triumph and of grief — Zac Unger has forged a timeless story of finding one's path. He never takes himself too seriously, but he comes to take his job very seriously. Because he tells his story with such extraordinary empathy and wit, his fierce passion for his work, his comrades, and the city he protects becomes our own.
"Full of rare insights on one of the toughest jobs anyone has to do." Kirkus Reviews
"Expanding on a Slate diary he wrote in 2001, Unger delivers a crisply written, somewhat gripping narrative of a rookie's life in the Oakland Fire Department." Publishers Weekly
"Zac Unger knows fire, but far more interestingly, he knows human nature." Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers
"Zac Unger... [is] an important new voice in the national fire service..." Dennis Smith, author of Report From Engine Co. 82 and Report From Ground Zero
"Working Fire comes from the hands of that rarest of beings, a truly gifted young writer." Larry Brown, author of On Fire
"The book works on two levels: as an inside view of firefighting that vividly re-creates the excitement and fear intrinsic to it, and as an account of how a son of the flower-power class turned into the real thing, a passionately dedicated firefighter. It doesn't hurt that Unger is a lucid writer whose prose almost always is set at just the right pitch, something that all too many professional writers often fail to achieve." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
"[A] thrilling story, not just because it's a rookie fireman's but because of Unger's bravery and his brain: he is an outsider-turned-insider..." Ted Conover, author of Newjack
This remarkable memoir, by turns funny and deeply moving, explores one man's coming into his calling and his transformation from ambivalent Ivy League grad to skilled and dedicated firefighter.
Zac Unger didnandrsquo;t feel like much of a fireman at first. Most of his fellow recruits seemed to have planned for the job all their lives; he was an Ivy League grad responding to an ad at a bus stop. He couldnandrsquo;t keep his boots shined, and he looked terrible in his uniform. Working Fire is the story of how, from this unlikely beginning, Zac Unger came to feel at home among this close-knit tribe, came to master his workandrsquo;s demands, and came to know what it is to see the world through a firefighterandrsquo;s eyes. From the raw material of his daysandrsquo; workandmdash;alarm calls both harrowing and hilarious, moments of triumph and griefandmdash;Unger has forged a timeless story of finding oneandrsquo;s path, and a rousing adventure about the bravery and sacrifice of everyday heroes.
On the web: http://www.zacunger.com
About the Author
Zac Unger is a firefighter and paramedic in Oakland, California. He has written about his life and work for the online magazine Slate. He is a graduate of Deep Springs College, Brown University, and UC Berkeley.
On the web: http://www.zacunger.com
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