“This day-by-day account of the defense of Tassajara Zen Mountain Center against massive wildfires in summer 2008 brings a Buddhist twist to the age-old preoccupation of humans living with—and trying to control—fire.”
Publisher’s Weekly
*Starred Review*

“The awareness of the firefighter, the mindfulness of the monk, the principles of fire and the spirit of Zen come together in a well-told story about the effort required and the lessons learned from paying close attention.”
Kirkus Reviews

“…captivating and often exhilarating…”
San Francisco Chronicle

“…an absorbing account of how two priesthoods — professional wildland firefighters and Zen monastics — confronted the fire’s threat.”
Los Angeles Times

Fire Monks is nonfiction, but it reads like a page-turner of the first order.”
San Jose Mercury News

“This book reads like a hair-raising adventure novel.”
Shambhala Sun

Fire Monks demonstrates the clarity of thought and action that can spring from Zen practice.”

“An astonishing portrait of courage under fire, and the power of mindfulness in the face of crisis.”
Barnes and Noble Review

“Not many books about Zen monks can be called nail-biters, but this one can.”
The Daily Beast

“A masterful example of contemporary literary journalism: few books can be labelled as ‘nail-biting adventure’ while also teaching about Buddhist practice and the meditative mind.”
Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire and The Accidental Buddhist

“…it’s not just a true-life adventure tale about people fighting a fire. It’s actually a really good book about Zen, and about how the so-called ‘Zen mind’ one develops in practice can be very practical in real situations when one must act quickly and decisively even without a lot of information about what might be best to do.”
Brad Warner, author of Hardcore Zen and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate

“This is not a tale of bravado in the face of adversity but of careful preparation and calmness in the eye of the storm. The book will become part of the San Francisco Zen Center history, alongside the center’s other books such as The Tassajara Bread Book and Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

TLC Book Tour blog reviews:


Advance Praise

“Fire Monks sets itself three difficult tasks – to reconstruct exactly what happened at Tassajara Zen Monastery during the great fire of 2008, to show how Zen prepared the monks to meet the fire, and to make us passionately absorbed in this story of burning and calmness – and succeeds in all three splendidly. I’m afraid I raced through this vivid, unusual, resonant story more like a wildfire than a monk myself.”
Rebecca Solnit, author of A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

“This is an exciting and heartwarming read – exciting because wildfire is unpredictable and dangerous, and heartwarming because this is the first honest account I have read of the simple, unadorned courage you find in American Zen communities.  After all the spiritual self-help manuals and self-focused memoirs, it’s good finally to hear a well-reported story of real life spiritual grace under pressure.”
Norman Fischer, Zen priest and poet
Founder and teacher, Everyday Zen Foundation
Author of Sailing Home: Using the Wisdom of Homer’s Odyssey to Navigate Life’s Perils and Pitfalls

“Fire Monks is a careful recounting of a brave, intelligent, and successful effort to defend the oldest Zen monastery outside Asia. It’s a charming tale, the Zen of fighting wildfire. But it’s also a case study of ‘stay and defend,’ the gritty and controversial tactic of remaining on site when wildfire strikes.”
John N. Maclean, author of Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire

“A strikingly well-crafted and moving chronicle of the Tassajara fire, interweaving the unfolding events, personal stories, fire lore, and Zen teaching – words for what is often difficult or impossible to put into words.”
Edward Brown, author of The Tassajara Bread Book and The Complete Tassajara Cookbook

“Fire Monks is a spellbinding tale of Zen wisdom in the face of real-life calamity. It is beautifully rendered and wonderfully inspiring, a refreshing tonic in today’s fragile world.”
Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts without a Thinker and Going to Pieces without Falling Apart

“If you have ever harbored a doubt about the efficacy of meditation in the real world, this book will give you a vision of enlightenment-in-action that will inspire you.”
Peter Coyote (HoSho Jishi), actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall

“Fire Monks is a page-turner, a meditation on fire, wind, water, and earth, and a wonderfully detailed portrait of Tassajara practitioners as they come face to face with fire and themselves. A terrific and thoughtful book.”
Gretel Ehrlich, author of The Solace of Open Spaces and A Match to the Heart

“Fire Monks put a magnifying glass on this story, sucked me into the drama, and kept me up way past my bedtime. Zen doesn’t have to be boring.”
David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki