“This book comes out of that fine North American tradition of nonfiction writing—a deeply researched and meticulously told account of a real event. It’s about a fire that happened up in the subarctic region of Canada, which is, by definition, very remote. It’s a very hard place to earn a living and it tells you a lot about human beings that tens of thousands of people have moved up there to work in the tar sands industry. This is a part of the oil industry that should be marginal because it’s very difficult to get the oil out. You have to expend huge amounts of electricity and natural gas to lift the sands and then to melt and render out the oil…Fire Weather tells the story of what happens when everything goes wrong and the unthinkable happens…this fire in 2016 went completely out of control. There are various reasons for that, but it points to a bigger issue around changes in the climate. The author gives you a very vivid account of that extraordinary event, which affected 90,000. It destroyed much of this place, Fort McMurray, and made a lot of people homeless. 2,400 structures were destroyed and 1,000 more were damaged.” Read more...
The Best Nonfiction Books: The 2023 Baillie Gifford Prize Shortlist