A review of


One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire

Lizzie JohnsonCrown • 2021

Negligence, Confusion, Death

by David Meyer

Washington Post reporter Lizzie Johnson provides a detailed, heartbreaking account of the 2018 Paradise fire that destroyed a California town.

Washington Post reporter Lizzie Johnson recounts how 52,000 residents of Butte County, California awoke on November 8, 2018 to what seemed an ordinary day, and by nightfall, saw their lives go up in flames. Johnson chronicles the fast-moving wildfire and the one-road town it demolished, while offering valuable advice for anticipating, preventing, minimizing, responding to and recovering from crisis.

They couldn’t fight it. The inferno was too big, too fast. Lizzie Johnson

Amidst a slew of Paradise fire books, some by outside observers and some by townspeople, Johnson’s stands out for its rigor, in-depth reporting, humane perspective, and hard-earned knowledge of fires and their consequences. Johnson’s telling, illuminating portraits of many of the people involved pull you directly into the inferno.

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