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Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara: 04/21/19

Finding Dorothy

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara by Colleen Morton Busch is an account of the 2008 fire that threatened the Tassajara Zen Mountain complex.

In the summer of 2008, a pair of fires converged and started to move to wards the Zen Mountain Complex. While mandatory evacuations were ordered, some of the monks decided to stay behind to fight the fire. The place has been equipped with the necessary tools and so a small number were allowed to stay.

The problem with a book like this is that there's only so much to write about during the actual events. Either it comes out sounding too detail oriented or it's very short.

To keep it from being too short, there needs to be filler. For a biography, that often ends up coming in the form of extended biographies of grandparents and parents. Here, it's mini biographies of the monks as well as a gushing account of how marvelous the center is.

What the book doesn't give is a good sense as to why it's a good idea to build in such a remote place. Nor was there any lasting sense of camaraderie for the people profiled — even though their details were given.

What the book doesn't have is any perspective from outsiders — from the fire fighters, from the people who ordered the evacuations.

Two stars

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