American Fire

American Fire : Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land

3.79 (13,714 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Expected delivery to the United States in 7-12 business days.

Not ordering to the United States? Click here.


Shocked by a five-month arson spree that left a Virginia county reeling, reporter Monica Hesse drove to Accomack to cover the trial of Charlie Smith who pled guilty to 67 counts of arson. But Smith wasn't lighting fires alone: his crimes were galvanised by a twisted love story. Hesse uncovered the motives of this troubled addict and his accomplice, Tonya Bundick. In depicting the dangerous shift in their passionate relationship, Hesse brings to life the once-thriving coastal community and its distressed inhabitants, decimated by a punishing economy and increasingly terrified by a string of fires they could not explain. Incorporating this drama into the history of arson in the US, American Fire re-creates the anguished nights of this quiet county lit up in flames, evoking a microcosm of rural America-a land gutted before the fires began.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 140 x 211 x 18mm | 211g
  • Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 8 pages of illustrations
  • 1631494511
  • 9781631494512
  • 52,593

Review quote

"Using straightforward prose and well-developed historical context, Hesse makes a story in which very little happens feel urgent and relevant." -- Times Literary Supplement "A gripping, fast-paced story with an asset that few true crime books have: no body count... the Freudian motivation of the culprits are fascinating." -- The 25 Best True Crime Books Every Person Should Read - Esquire
show more

About Monica Hesse

Monica Hesse is a feature writer for the Washington Post. Winner of the Edgar Award and a finalist for a Livingston and James Beard Award, she is also the author of Girl in the Blue Coat. She lives in Washington, DC.
show more

Rating details

13,714 ratings
3.79 out of 5 stars
5 19% (2,561)
4 47% (6,497)
3 29% (3,982)
2 4% (552)
1 1% (122)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X