With Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World, journalist John Vaillant offers a vivid retelling of the multi-billion-dollar disaster that he calls “the wildfire equivalent of Hurricane Katrina.” In May 2016, Fort McMurray, a small Canadian city at the center of the country’s oil industry, was destroyed by a colossal wildfire that drove 88,000 people from their homes. To better understand how this apocalyptic natural disaster happened, the award-winning author of The Golden Spruce and The Tiger chronicles the intertwining histories of North America’s oil and gas industries and the study of climate change. Using images from cell phone cameras, security cameras, and a nanny cam placed in a child’s stuffed animal, Vaillant offers a gripping depiction of the blaze’s devastating trajectory. While he offers firsthand accounts from residents affected by the inferno, the book’s true protagonist is fire, which Vaillant treats like a living, breathing creature that is destined to grow even more dangerous as the world becomes even more combustible. At a time when wildfires are dominating news cycles, Fire Weather is not just a timely and stunning account of recent history—it’s also a frightening preview of what could become our new normal. —Shannon Carlin
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