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One Town’s Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire

Through stories of Cal Fire personnel and Paradise city administrators, Paradise reveals the humanity behind wildfire disasters that have affected our region. Readers will get a window into the social structures that help and hinder community resiliency. The book powerfully conveys sense of place and connection to nature and community that is part of Northern California identity. While the book generates feelings of empathy and the desire to protect these special places, it is a painful and difficult read.

Content warning: Graphic descriptions of death as a result of wildfire

Author: Lizzie Johnson
Year of Publishing: 2021
Number of Pages: 432

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  1. Sandy Moyer (verified owner)

    Well written book is about the devastating fire in the N CA town of Paradise.

  2. kerricoldren (verified owner)

    I ordered this book for several reasons but the main reason is because my family is the one behind the name for Coldren Road in Paradise, CA. My father’s parent’s ashes are spread there, and his ashes were supposed to be scattered there as well…and then it all burned down. The stories in this book are both heartbreaking but, in the end, I have to hold hope that we will make better choices concerning climate policies and find real solutions before more towns and lives are left as ashes.

  3. Jennifer Mierkey (verified owner)

    Wow, all I can say. Such a compelling documentary of the true story of Paradise. Something that our children will need to read to understand. My heart goes out. Thank you for the opportunity to read and understand the survivor’s stories: the struggle, the commitment, and the rebirth of a community.

  4. Bswade46 (verified owner)

    This book was a gripping account of the Paradise Fire. It also explained in detail the difficulties facing CA, firefighters and first responders along with how decisions made by local governments can have real impacts in a crisis. The author further does an excellent job explaining PG&E’s role of negligence and complicity in this disaster, as well as many others. I found the book to be a tragic read, but one that was incredibly educational.

  5. Ashley Manning (verified owner)

    Very well written book. The author does a fantastic job of following the timeline of the fire and making you feel as though you are there. I also was glad to hear all the different perspectives from the fire and how the tragedy has affected them. As a firefighter and as someone deeply affected by the 2020 firestorm, I really appreciated this book and feels that it needs to be read.

  6. sferris (verified owner)

    Very thorough book detailing the cause of the Camp Fire, the escape efforts of residents and emergency personnel, and the clean-up response of survivors and government officials. Gripping and intense!

  7. jrogers (verified owner)

    Good read!

  8. C Meadows (verified owner)

    Well written and engaging. Hits close to home on a lot of different levels. I enjoyed the read, and hope that with information and working together we can bring our community forward into a better managed environment for us all. Kudos to the author’s hard work and talent.

  9. JenEnna (verified owner)

    Where to begin…I thought knew about wildfires and their impacts on communities as I’m married to a USFS Firefighter but nothing would have prepared me for this book. It feels wrong to describe Lizzie’s writing as beautiful but her word choice really made you feel like you knew the people when she shared their stories. Going into the book, it sat on my nightstand for a while as I thought it was going to be dry with facts and charts, etc. But she really brought the devastating human experience to the page. I have lost count of the number of people I have told about this book and I strongly feel that city managers, county commissioners and anyone that is involved with managing a community should be required to read this book to learn how tragedies like this can be prevented.

  10. FFFbooks123 (verified owner)

    Southern Oregonians & Northern Californians remember California’s Camp Fire of 2018, the devastating wildfire. It begs important discussions and shines an important light on a heartbreaking tragedy.

  11. Cindy Chandler (verified owner)

    Wow, I was so moved by this book that my vacation plans for this summer will include a trip to Paradise, California. I have a coworker who lost her home in the fire and has relocated to Oregon. I’d love to discuss this book with her, but probably won’t due to the fact that the book is so moving. Not being affected by the fire itself but being affected by the book I couldn’t fathom how devastating the real life happening would have on a life. I appreciate the author of Paradise introducing characters and following through with what they endured during the devastation. A very moving book. I can’t say it was wonderful because of the true life event it tells about but I can say reading the book has left an impact on my life.

  12. ashley.m.wortman (verified owner)

    Heartbreaking stories and important stories to know.

  13. JoAnna Lamb (verified owner)

    A disappointment. It had a great subject, but it was written in a tone of a fiction write that felt the need to get every, single boring detail of everyday life. I can’t imagine how that much information was gathered because who can remember that much about their daily lives in an interview? Possibly embellishments?

  14. nunnj (verified owner)

    Such a good book! Filled with heartbreak and triumph and shows so much good in humanity!

  15. kathyanng (verified owner)

    Excellently written. Harrowing and honest.

  16. Lindsay (verified owner)

    Great book.

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