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What to expect

In the tradition of Young Men and Fire and Fire on the Mountain, Stuart Palley’s memoir Into the Inferno documents eight years of devastating wildfire in California, showing how fire can transform a landscape as well as a soul …

For nearly a decade, Palley has been on the frontline of fire. He has witnessed homeowners on the worst day of their lives. He’s seen puddles of aluminum where cars were once parked. He’s watched as 150-foot walls of flame cascaded down mountainsides and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. And he’s captured, time and again, the tireless commitment of firefighters as they work to save lives and homes, in terrain where fire always seems to have the upper hand.

In this memoir, Palley recalls how he went from learning to be safe on the fireline to a fire-savvy documentarian of wildfire and climate change. He covers some of California’s largest, most destructive, and deadliest fires between 2012 and 2020, lugging his gear from the Wine Country Fire Siege to the Thomas Fire and ultimately to the Woolsey Fire in Malibu. And he shows how, in a relatively short span of time, fire season in California has grown into a perpetual crisis, requiring billions of dollars and thousands of firefighters each year.

Ultimately, the experiences, the voices, the science shared in the memoir form an urgent call for climate action. Into the Inferno stands alongside Palley’s photography to show just what kind of environmental tragedy we can expect if we do nothing.

Critics Review

  • “Palley mostly shoots at night, making long exposures that pulse in a cosmic blaze of heat and color.”

    Wired, praise for the author
  • “Very few photographers understand the nuances of fire like Stuart Palley. With Into the Inferno, Palley takes the reader on his journey to the heart of some of the most historic and destructive fires in the United States, and provides compelling insight into the complexities of photographing wildfires while trying to stay safe, and ultimately making one of the most poignant and important photographic records of the effects of climate change to date. This book is essential reading for anyone looking for insight into the treacherous journey of those covering and fighting fires.”

    Lynsey Addario, Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist and author of It's What I Do and Of Love & War
  • “From his front-row seat, Palley pens a compelling, personal narrative of what it’s like to watch the world burn. His journey into realizing that climate change is a current disaster, not a future one, is ultimately a destination we’re all going to have to reach. Let Palley be your guide to understanding the new normal.”

    Wes Siler, editor and columnist at Outside magazine
  • “Stuart is a much needed and powerful voice in the face of the climate emergency. Like his photos, his writing viscerally captures the unique and haunting experience each fire has on ecosystems, survivors, and the communities impacted. Into the Inferno captures the frontlines of each megafire and translates each experience into urgency, loss, and a sobering foreshadowing of our future in an age of fire.”

    Julia Jackson, founder and CEO, Grounded Summit and Foundation

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