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

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

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

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

by Monica Hesse


$14.49  $15.95 Save 9% Current price is $14.49, Original price is $15.95. You Save 9%.
    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Monday, December 4
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year
One of Amazon’s 20 Best Books of the Year
Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Buzzfeed, Bustle, NPR, NYLON, and Thrillist
Finalist for the Goodreads Book Award (Nonfiction)
Finalist for the Edgar Award (Best Fact Crime)
A Book of the Month Club Selection
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection

“A brisk, captivating and expertly crafted reconstruction of a community living through a time of fear.... Masterful.” —Washington Post

The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. Vigilante groups sprang up, patrolling the rural Virginia coast with cameras and camouflage. Volunteer firefighters slept at their stations. The arsonist seemed to target abandoned buildings, but local police were stretched too thin to surveil them all. Accomack was desolate—there were hundreds of abandoned buildings. And by the dozen they were burning.

“One of the year’s best and most unusual true-crime books” (Christian Science Monitor), American Fire brings to vivid life the reeling county of Accomack. “Ace reporter” (Entertainment Weekly) Monica Hesse spent years investigating the story, emerging with breathtaking portraits of the arsonists—troubled addict Charlie Smith and his girlfriend, Tonya Bundick. Tracing the shift in their relationship from true love to crime spree, Hesse also conjures the once-thriving coastal community, decimated by a punishing economy and increasingly suspicious of their neighbors as the culprits remained at large. Weaving the story into the history of arson in the United States, the critically acclaimed American Fire re-creates the anguished nights this quiet county lit up in flames, evoking a microcosm of rural America—a land half-gutted before the fires began.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631494512
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 05/22/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 168,967
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

1 "Charge That Line!" 3

2 "The South Starts Here" 12

3 "Orange in the Sky" 21

4 Charlie 35

5 Monomanie Incendiaire 43

6 Tonya 50

7 "Like A Ghost" 57

8 "Tell Us What You Know about That" 71

9 Charlie and Tonya 82

10 SchröDinger's Evidence 90

11 The Eastern Shore Arsonist Hunters 97

12 "I've seen Enough Ass to Know" 105

13 "Like Hell Was Coming Up Through the Ground" 113

14 Tonya And Charlie 120

15 "They're Not Hunters At All" 127

16 "I didn't Light Them All" 131

17 "Someday they'll go Down Together" 138

18 "Everybody Has A Reason For Why They Do Things in Life" 144

19 "I can't Tell You Something I don't Know" 156

20 "Midnight Without Makeup" 169

21 The Broken Things 173

22 "Time To Wake Up" 185

23 Burned 194

24 "We'd Done It Before" 196

25 "They Came Out Of Everywhere" 215

26 "Moral Turpitude" 225

27 What Happened Next 229

28 "It's over" 236

Acknowledgments 241

Notes 245

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews