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

Liveright Publishing
27
Free sample

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.

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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.

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4.3
27 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Liveright Publishing
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Published on
Jul 11, 2017
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781631490521
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Criminals & Outlaws
Social Science / Sociology / Rural
True Crime / General
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Content protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Joined by an award-winning Mexican journalist, leading organized-crime author Peter Edwards reveals the successors to Vito Rizzuto's criminal dominance, a motley assortment of millennial bikers, gangsters and Mafia whose bloody trail of murders and schemes gone wrong led to the arrival on Canada's doorstep of the world's most dangerous criminal organizations: the drug cartels of Mexico.

Following the death of Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto in 2013, a group of young criminals rose to fill the vacuum in power on his old turf. Targetting the old guard of Mafia and 'Ndrangheta, still led in many cases by men in their seventies and eighties and steeped in a highly structured, quasi-religious criminal tradition, the newcomers were nothing like their predecessors. The impatient millennials leading this self-styled "Wolfpack" were organized-crime disruptors who grew up with technology at their fingertips in a socially networked criminal underworld. They're part of Canada's most ethnically diverse generation, and their organization was as inclusive as it is criminal. They shared an overwhelming sense of entitlement, with a self-assuredness that astonished their rivals but left them foolishly exposed to law enforcement, enemies and the force in global crime they were arrogant enough to think they could handle doing business with. The dominant and most violent force in the global narcotics trade through the 2000s, Mexico's Sinaloa and Los Zetas drug cartels, recognized the naivety of their eager new customers up north and invited themselves to Canada to take advantage.
In times of chaos and collapsing orders, disruptors rule. But was this new gang the new underworld order, or just the latest challenger in an ongoing upheaval in the wake of Rizzuto's death? The bloody answers are in The Wolfpack.
An intimate -- and frightening -- glimpse inside the mind of America's most prolific serial killer, Charles Cullen, whose 16-year long "nursing" career left as many as 400 dead.

After his December 2003 arrest, registered nurse Charlie Cullen was quickly dubbed "The Angel of Death" by the media. But Cullen was no mercy killer, nor was he a simple monster. He was a favorite son, husband, beloved father, best friend, and celebrated caregiver. Implicated in the deaths of as many as 300 patients, he was also perhaps the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Cullen's murderous career in the world's most trusted profession spanned sixteen years and nine hospitals across New Jersey and Pennsylvania. When, in March of 2006, Charles Cullen was marched from his final sentencing in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, courthouse into a waiting police van, it seemed certain that the chilling secrets of his life, career, and capture would disappear with him. Now, in a riveting piece of investigative journalism nearly ten years in the making, journalist Charles Graeber presents the whole story for the first time. Based on hundreds of pages of previously unseen police records, interviews, wire-tap recordings and videotapes, as well as exclusive jailhouse conversations with Cullen himself and the confidential informant who helped bring him down, The Good Nurse weaves an urgent, terrifying tale of murder, friendship, and betrayal.

Graeber's portrait of Cullen depicts a surprisingly intelligent and complicated young man whose promising career was overwhelmed by his compulsion to kill, and whose shy demeanor masked a twisted interior life hidden even to his family and friends. Were it not for the hardboiled, unrelenting work of two former Newark homicide detectives racing to put together the pieces of Cullen's professional past, and a fellow nurse willing to put everything at risk, including her job and the safety of her children, there's no telling how many more lives could have been lost.

In the tradition of In Cold Blood, The Good Nurse does more than chronicle Cullen's deadly career and the breathless efforts to stop him; it paints an incredibly vivid portrait of madness and offers a penetrating look inside America's medical system. Harrowing and irresistibly paced, this book will make you look at medicine, hospitals, and the people who work in them, in an entirely different way.
As heard on NPR's This American Life

“Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air

“One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever.” —Christian Science Monitor

A rollicking true-crime adventure and a captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief.

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them—and escaped into the darkness.

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.
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