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Fighting Fire

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A woman's story of danger, wonder, awe and the profound questions about life that fighting fire raised within her. "A thrilling, perceptive memoir . . . Paul conveys the fear and attraction to danger that she believes drive dedicated firefighters".--"Publishers Weekly". Available now.
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Fighting Fire

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A woman's story of danger, wonder, awe and the profound questions about life that fighting fire raised within her. "A thrilling, perceptive memoir . . . Paul conveys the fear and attraction to danger that she believes drive dedicated firefighters".--"Publishers Weekly". Available now.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
This memoir of one of the first women to penetrate the all-male bastion of the San Francisco Fire Department offers the story of one womanþs education in political consciousness and personal discovery. It also provides valuable insights into the life and day-to-day dangers facing a metropolitan firefighter. Stanford University graduate and aspiring filmmaker Paul cannot account for her desire to become a firefighter. Her motivations are deeply seated in some primordial fascination with one of natureþs most mysterious elements as well as with a strong desire to prove that she could do something virtually everyone believed she couldnþt. Emerging from a genteel, upper-middle-class family, steeped in the '80s lifestyle of healthy habits, committed to trendy social causes, and gorgeous (her identical twin lands a part as a Baywatch þBabeþ), Paul is an unlikely candidate for one of the most physically and mentally demanding professions in the world. Nevertheless, she works her way through the training and probationary period, past male chauvinist resistance, and finally earns her stripes as a reliable member of an engine crew and then as an heroic part of a rescue squad. Along the way, she earns a graduate degree in film, has at least one or two serious relationships, and still finds time to campaign against the illegal imprisonment of her brother, who has been incarcerated for his militant animal rights activities. The narrative is repetitive and sometimes slowed by sophomoric sociological and psychological observations and a plethora of inexcusable grammatical errors. It is also marred by a herky-jerky sentence style that extends to an episodic, anecdotalstructure. But the memoir eventually rises above such flaws to offer an outstanding account of one womanþs struggle to prove her personal worth and courage and to make her place in a world previously reserved exclusively for men. (First serial to Reader's Digest; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club featured alternate selection; author tour)
From the Publisher
"A rare glimpse through female eyes into the testosterone-laden world of the firehouse...Fighting Fire offers perhaps the most compelling explanation yet as to why some people actually enjoy the window-shattering, blood-boiling, bone-melting heat of a roaring blaze."—Entertainment Weekly

"A compelling behind-the-scenes story...immediate and real."—San Francisco Chronicle

"This is the story of her nine years (so far) combating flames— and sexism. A truly hot read!"—Mademoiselle

Fairfax County Public Library, VA - Pam Johnson
The author (Caroline Paul) is quick to point out the many difficulties about being a female firefighter, along with the positive aspects. Not only must she continually prove to her coworkers that she can indeed do the job well; she must also prove it to herself. Her easy-to-read narrative that's filled with real action and true situations should appeal to young adults. Paul presents herself and all firefighters, male or female, as dedicated professionals who put their lives on the line everyday.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780982279731
  • Publisher: Skywriter Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2011
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,034,158
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Paul is the author of the novel East, Wind Rain and her latest book, Lost Cat. She lives in San Francisco and is a member of the Writers' Grotto. She is a pilot and former fire fighter with the San Francisco Fire Department.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Riveting and inspiring

    Riveting throughout. Excellent memoir of self-possessed and strong-willed firefighter who joined the predominately male fire department in the aftermath of affirmative action. Acceptance by some, active harassment by others, her experiences are well detailed with a curious sense of detachment that added to the credibility. In the chapter labeled "Firewomen", I was impressed with her assertation that the vilification of Elizabeth Mandel actually helped the other women who came after her. "She is so vilified that the rest of us gain by contrast. Once we are seen to be less defensive or combative than Elizabeth--and rumors about her took on such grotesque proportions that it was impossible to come even close--the firefighter is so relieved that he is friendlier than he might otherwise have been". In a book full of interesting information and observations, the events surrounding Todd Lane could have been easily missed. For me, it was an important reminder that during times of change, people's first reactions, especially during such a difficult time, are not necessarily their ultimate opinions. That change is hard, especially when many felt that "the fire department was the best men's club in the world." and resented the change. That the power of a heartfelt apology can be immense and freeing to both the one who freely offers it and the one who was imprisoned in the anger and frustration. "Suddenly, from the Rescue desk, Todd Lane beckons me over. He hitches his pants and clears his throat. 'Listen,' he says, his voice low. "Is it too late, four years too late, to say I'm sorry?" I definitely think this book is well worth reading and is one that I would have read with my daughters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2004

    about Fire Dept where woman just nominated chief!

    In Jan 2004 this book is very timely, as a fellow female fire-fighter was just nominated to be the next San Francisco Fire Chief.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2000

    Daring Women

    I think that this book tells the women side of the story, how tough it is to be able to be treated equaly in the world. I also believe that any women who has the guts to do what Caroline Paul did is very brave, and it just proves that women are just as good as men in any field of work. The book was great I loved it!

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