Fourth Estate, £18.99
'Fire' is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Sebastian Junger's 'The Perfect Storm'. This book, like Junger's number one bestseller, was born of an idea he had as a struggling young writer to produce a book on dangerous jobs. The first chapter, also entitled Fire, was in fact written in 1992, before he tackled the topic of commercial fishing which eventually evolved into 'The Perfect Storm'.
Although he never got round to writing his book on dangerous jobs, sidetracked as he was by the runaway success of 'The Perfect Storm', Junger was inspired by his experiences while researching that idea to produce 'Fire', a collection of articles which deal with, in his own words "people confronting situations that could easily destroy them". In the introduction, he explains how his fascination with foreign reporting came about, and – as the majority of articles in 'Fire' are concerned with his observations while in such war-torn areas as Kosovo and Afghanistan – this provides the reader with a revealing insight into the motivations behind this book.
However, parts of 'Fire' lack the dramatic quality that was so evident in 'The Perfect Storm'. Although there will be great interest in this publication due to Junger's previous success and also because the final chapter deals with Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, a topic that has added significance in the current climate, some readers may find their expectations unrealised. However, as examples of journalism and foreign reporting, the articles in 'Fire' are superb. Junger writes with ease and his simple but precise style ensures that the story rather than its telling takes centre-stage.