Through the music, the message, the opinions of those involved and the feeling from the gigs, the hardcore punk movement has helped many find their calling in life - be they artists, activists, volunteers or, in the case of Brian Peterson, a high school teacher and now an author.
Written over a six-year period in Peterson's spare time, 'Burning Fight' is an oral history that chronicles the second decade in the scene through interviews with the people who were part of it, on stage and off.
As with the best music writing, it isn't necessary to have heard or heard of the bands featured and Peterson is a smart interviewer and editor who makes sure that the trips down memory lane don't lead to cul-de-sacs. At 500 pages 'Burning Fight' is a big book, but it never feels like a long one.
Along with the music, issues such as vegetarianism, spirituality and living drink and drug free (straight edge) are discussed and what shines through from every interviewee is how important hardcore is/was in each of their lives. Whether they have moved on or are still heavily involved, it is one of those 'fork in the road' experiences for all. But Peterson and the people he has talked to also have the awareness to admit that this was no utopia where everyone held hands and sang for a better day - bitching, elitism, conformity and disaffection also had a presence.
Devoid of PR spin, hype and well-rehearsed answers, what this book does brilliantly is give you a real sense of the struggle people went through to make their music and then bring it in vans to cramped halls across the US and Europe. The journeys they made in their minds are equally fascinating, and you should be prepared to make a few of your own along the way.