About the book, reviews, where to purchase

I am one of the first women hired on a U.S. Forest Service fire crew. A naïve twenty-year-old in the mid 1970s, I had no idea that I was entering a strictly man’s world, and soon discovered fighting wildfires was just one of the challenges I would face.

Summers of Fire, A Memoir of Adventure, Love and Courage, told with honest emotion, goes beyond battling fires and discrimination—it is a vibrant story of unwavering perseverance.


"Very easy to read. Captivating because there were several different stories being told at the same time. You growing up, maturing, romance, the sexism and hostility at work, the insight into being a fire fighter, and sharing your aspirations and ideals and the love which you had for the outdoors.
I found it really impressive how you managed to tell such a multi-faceted story while not losing the focus.
It was also strikingly honest. Which is a tremendous testimony to you as a writer and as a person.
The language just worked great for me. I thought I could see at times when you could have used different words to describe things but the words you used transmitted , to me anyway, what you were trying to say in a really effective way.
I can’t think or quote an example Linda but I remember thinking on several occasions this is someone who has thought about the words she uses.
But then I did read it for pleasure, not to study.
Anyhow I also think it’s also a fantastic story. Rivetting. Which lends itself to being told by a really good writer."

"Linda has captured her struggles as a woman on a fire crew.  It has taken many years, since Linda was part of male dominance that thought only men could do the arduous job of suppressing wildfires, to realize that women are a very integral part of fire suppression.  Being a crewmember with Linda years ago helped me realize that we all can do the job." Mark S.

"Her memoir is more than what it was like for a female to serve on a fire crew. I think her book would appeal to large audiences." H.G.

"The book is a welcome addition to a growing literature of fire memoirs." Stephen P.

"I just finished the book and I loved it. I shed a few tears at the end. I remember you telling me about your knee surgery when we worked together but didn't realize just how much you suffered. I'm so happy for you and your current life and proud of what you accomplished in your early years. You are a pioneer or as some might say a "willa cather woman"! I think your story would make a perfect Lifetime movie and I hope someone approaches you so it can happen." Anne G.

" I LOVED the memoir 'Summers of Fire' by Linda Strader about her life as a firefighter - so honest about what it cost her physically and emotionally to be one of the first women in this line of work. Her obsession with fire and her skill in fighting fires was fascinating, her physical courage was amazing and I came away from the book feeling I'd experienced ten more lives!" Jean G.

“Strader’s story is an unsung part of the #MeToo movement... I found myself nodding and sympathizing as I read, and I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of working fires, building trail, and finding her way as a woman in what is tragically still a man’s world.” —Susan J. Tweit, ​www.storycirclebookreviews.com

“Strader’s writing is insightfully descriptive, from nature’s wonders and brutality, to times when she survived only on sheer willpower, truly pushing herself physically to the brink, and the rewards she found working in the great Western outdoors. This well-written memoir will have readers caught up in the adventurous twists and turns to very end.” —Karen Walenga, Green Valley News

"Although it might be easy to characterize the book as being for women because of its inspirational message about trying to make it in 'a man’s world,' men would greatly benefit from reading it, too, if only to learn that it takes more courage to fight for respect and dignity than it does to fight a wall of flames." —James G. Lewis, Forest History Today

"As a twenty-year old, Linda Strader was determined to become a U. S. Forest Service fire fighter. Her book is an action-packed story of how she accomplished her objective becoming the first woman fire fighter in the Florida Ranger Station in southern Arizona and among the very few women then employed in this capacity. Besides the physical endurance required and dangers faced in her job, she is also subjected to the discrimination suffered by women entering jobs considered “not for women” and performing as well or better than “the boys.” Knee injuries in her seventh year disabled her from continuing in the work she loved so much. In this fast-moving book Strader tell us how fires are fought and takes us with her into the heat and danger of them. She also shares with us her experiences with her employer, the men she worked with, and the romances in her life during this period and later." Frank. B.

"What kind of a person pursues a career in fighting forest fires?” I asked myself when I came across Linda Strader’s memoir. After reading 250 fascinating pages, the conclusion I came to was, “A surprisingly normal person!”
Linda’s aspirations were clear from the time shortly after she left high school: she wanted not only to work physically outdoors but under some of the most extreme conditions known to men – or women!
This book amply lives up to its title. It’s about Linda’s pursuit of work fighting forest fires in the US, about what we all share in common – our need for and pursuit of love, and about the courage it takes to manage both of these dangerous pursuits.
I learned what it takes to fight forest fires and not only the tools, survival gear and equipment but also the additional persistence and courage that it takes a woman to pursue and succeed in this line of work at a time when women were just beginning to enjoy equal opportunities. And even then, while they were equal on paper, in practice women were far from being treated as equals irrespective of their skills and experience. Linda suffers and largely overcomes the prejudices that accompany the pioneer, despite the unfortunate and sometimes hideous form that these prejudices take.
I learned too, or rather was reminded, that the workplace, although theoretically gender-free in terms of hiring conditions can never be gender-free in terms of human relationships, nor is the latter a sought-after goal by any employee. And perhaps in that fact lies the essence of the conundrum. Any traditionally all-make workplace will inevitably be changed forever when gender restrictions are removed. A mixed workforce introduces a social dynamic that previously did not exist. Linda Strader illustrates this again and again as she joins work-crews in various states in the US including some of the most imaginatively romantic – California, Arizona and Alaska.
In a series of fast-moving and sometimes hair-raising anecdotes, Linda Strader gives the reader a first-hand view of what it was like to be on the leading edge of turning the forest services into a gender-equal employment zone. These anecdotes include not only the perils of fire-fighting but also those of seeking love or sexual solace or both.
The dual theme of fire-fighting and love is maintained from the first page to the last. It is permeated by the author’s obvious love of the natural world. The additional these, that of courage, also permeates the narrative and takes pride of place at the end of the book when Linda is forced to face both physical and emotional challenges.
I didn’t see the conclusion coming but when it came, it made me realise that while this well-written book claims to be about first, fire and second, love, it is, in the long run – as it is for us all, about courage. In the end, it’s courage that keeps us going.
" Ron M.

"Linda's story is a must read if you want to be inspired by women who do the unthinkable. She shattered all boundaries as one of the first women to work "on the line" in the Forest Service fighting forest fires.

Every mother should buy this book for her young-ish daughters to read to learn that we really can do anything we want and gender is not a barrier and courage and self-belief are attributes to be cultivated.

Thank you, Linda Strader, for blazing the trail!" Gretchen A.

"Very inspirational book! Well written, insightful, descriptive, engrossing. Kept me reading to the end. Jumps back and forth just enough to keep the reader on track. She endured so much in her career and it made her stronger. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fire fighting, or just working hard, and overcoming tremendous obstacles to keep a job that you love to do." Diann W.

"This memoir by Linda Strader tells the story of a young woman who always knew she wanted to fight wildfires, and took up every challenge, both physically and mentally to do so. Along the way, the reader is able to experience Linda's open attitude to learning and hard work, and her attainment of respect by her "fellow" fire crew members at a time when a woman's presence was viewed as, at worst a threat, and at best, a distraction. She learns she must fight against the restrictions on her opportunities, placed upon her regardless of her talent or ability. She also grows in emotional maturity, as she explores her romantic attractions and feelings, and ultimately accepts life's curves and recognizes her own needs. Her determination and perseverance serves her well, and leads her to new chapters in her life after her hotshot career is cut short due to injury. Landscape, weather and wildlife are additional characters in her narrative, and they are beautifully described." CAG

"I learned so much from this book about being a women firefighter, being the only women with a all male crew. She went through a lot of "Your a women you can't do that" and proved them all wrong, she could and did do that. Loved the book." Kindle User

"Inspirational, well written, and captivating. A story of how one woman broke barriers and boundaries in the 70s by being one of the first woman forest fire fighters in a 'mans world" and against all odds. But it's more than that. It shows, through her personal story, that through strength and determination you can do anything if you just set your heart to it. That if you have a love for something in your life, don't let others stop your dreams. A good life well lived and well worth reading about. And its through her story, that inspires the call of the heart to apply to any life. No matter what you "think" is there to stop you." M.M.

"The subtitle sums it up well. Linda Strader was a ground-breaker in the days when you had to be massively motivated to follow your dream of firefighting in a man's world. She broke through and held her ground with distinction. This is a wonderful, uplifting memoir of not giving up. Highly recommended." PNW

"I'm a guy - and I recommend this book! I starting reading this book because it was about a topic that excited me - fighting forest fires. This book is a great description of what it is like to work for the forest service summer after summer and fight fires. Sometimes the experience is danger-filled and very exciting - often it is routine and backbreaking work. What I hadn't anticipated when I picked up this book, was what I would learn about the challenges a woman faces when she enters a man's field. I thought I knew that story - boring - but reading the experience through Linda's eyes showed it to me in a new and very personal way. I began to really root for Linda. Though I hate to admit it, I was a bit teary-eyed at the end of the book both because of the challenges she faced and overcame as best she could, but also because I had that feeling you get when you become familiar with a character and then you reach the end and realize you won't be following that character any more. Whether she's describing fighting a fire or fighting her feelings, Linda weaves an engaging story that pulls you in and keeps you reading." Colin T.

"For us Baby Boomers, a book like this is way overdue. For some reason, despite the many changes our generation lived through in the 1970s -- many of us leading in our own way -- few memoirs seem to explore this experience. Strader does it well. As one of the first women firefighters out west, she finds that fire is the object of only one battle, and not always the most frustrating one, either. Despite the many physical dangers of her job, she often finds the fight for her own her choices to be the most fierce. When a government-sponsored support group assigns her an interview project with her supervisors and team-mates, she is crushed to learn that the men she works alongside, with whom she felt she had a very good relationship, believed she should not be there, risking her life for them and the forests she loved. When she finally files a very legitimate discrimination complaint, the results are not what she had been promised. But despite her many trials on and off the line, the book is no misery memoir. I found myself encouraged by Strader's ability to pick herself up and never quit loving -- the crew she works with, her job, the wilderness, and, most important, herself.

Sadly, her experience in work and romance will resonate with many young women today. Change comes slowly. Still, her will to push on will likely offer women hope, no matter their generation. And even men wondering what it's really like to fight the big fires can put themselves right in the suffocating heat through Stader's narrative.
" G. K.

"The political/social unrest of the late 60’s gave birth to the turbulent 70’s where traditional values and way of life were frequently called into question, examined and ultimately forever changed. Part of the revolution was the emergence of equal opportunity for women in many fields of employment that had previously been closed to them, by tradition. Summers of Fire is a biographical account of one young woman’s crusade to enter the male-centric field of forest fire management. The author Linda Strader was determined to become a U. S. Forest Service fire fighter and was one of the first women to ultimately crash the barrier to serve on a fire line. The account is much more than historical – it is deeply personal, drawing back a curtain to reveal intimate relationships, personal doubt and growth, insecurities, and triumphs. The reader gets a personal sense of the exhaustion and dangers of fighting wildfires. Boomer-generation readers will recognize the social environment the author faced. It is the time-honored story of a young person’s quest to grow despite gender prejudices. It’s a good read for multiple generations – reminiscent for many and inspirational for a new generation." Jeff S.

"In her first book, a memoir, Summers of Fire, Linda Strader demonstrates a unique ability. She is able to draw the reader into the extreme intensity of fighting wildfires with authentic, precise descriptions while juxtaposing the human drama behind the heroic work with a soft and almost spiritual passion. The story, based on her years in the U. S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, has a true-life novel feel to it, and manages a page turning momentum as she fights the battles of her life in the physical, emotional, and romantic realms. Her candor when addressing the subtle and not-so subtle issues of discrimination along with her personal relationships is refreshing and add much to the details of the harsh and dangerous life of a female fighter. Any reader looking for a well-written, truthful, and frank account of courageous firefighting mixed with the emotional power of watching a young woman succeed in the male dominated profession will thoroughly enjoy this book. Five stars for its uniqueness and honesty." Albert S.

"I loved this book. The author's experience as the first women fire fighter for the U.S. Forest Service hit a nerve for me as I was the first woman in my field as well. Many of the experiences she had, brought back memories of the injustice of being a woman in a "man's world" but she did so with courage. Her commitment to her profession in the face of the adversity was promising. She tells three loves stories in her book, the love for her profession, the love for a man, and finally her love for herself.

Her descriptions of the locations where she worked made me feel like I was right there with her. She shared the complexity of being young, aggressive, and alone in her tasks while being amidst a crew who sometimes did not hide their displeasure at having a woman in the crew.

She kept me turning pages with her carefully crafted scenes, colorful descriptions, and the personalities who jumped off the pages.
" Glasshut

"A young girl just out of school has the courage and strength to follow her dream of fighting fires with the Arizona Forest Service; this back in the 1970's. From my winter home in Green Valley, I see the Santa Rita mountains, wherein lies Madera Canyon, one of the places Linda worked, alongside men, some of whom made it clear that she was not welcome among them. During her seven years of participating fully in the same activities as her male colleagues, in Arizona, and as far north as Alaska, she proved to them, and to herself, that she was their equal on the job, while keeping her fears and self-doubts inside. I found the book easy to read, and admired Linda's tenacity, determination and loyalty to her work and to her marriage, none of which was ever easy. I feel as if I know her better, and in fact, do, as I have recently followed her desert landscape class in Green Valley, and she has designed a desert landscape plan for our yard. Linda is a survivor, an author, an artist, certified arborist and landscape architect. And, first, and above all, a courageous firefighter. Bravo, Linda. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly." Robert W.

"I am a female firefighter in my 5th year of fire, and I am so thankful that Linda wrote this book. I have had many similar experiences and thoughts that she had, and it has given me a new sense of confidence and a much bigger perspective on my career in fire. I have read other books about women in fire that were oddly absent of struggles. I don't know if those women were just that lucky, or if they chose to omit those issues for a million possible reasons. Either way, this was the first book that I felt was completely honest and uncensored. It takes courage to do that!" ranger

"As a woman who came of age during the dawn of feminism, I truly identified with Linda's story. Only I wasn't brave or physically fit enough to break through in an industry especially known for its masculine identity. Linda Strader tackled her dream career with grit, determination, and finesse. I can't imagine the struggle to establish your worth when the odds are against you like Linda did. Sexual harassment, rejection, being undervalued despite superior performance...she approached these obstacles determined to win. And she did!! I'm sure she has no idea how she paved the way for women who followed, but kudos to you, Linda. You are a pioneer. I loved your story!" Patty S.

"As a former red carded National Park Service wildlland firefighter, I could
easily relate to and appreciate Linda Strader's fire line adventures.

This captivating memoir is an honest and revealing account of her spirited
service and sacrifice as a pioneer woman forest firefighter. This vivid story
shares in clear, crisp and engaging detail her considerable work experience
in an often dangerous and demanding job. When acts of prejudice and
harassment are added to the mix, you have a near impossible work environ-
ment in a male dominated profession.

Strader's unexpected and painful departure from the fire service and
subsequent healing and reinvention of self and self-worth had me reeling
in awe of her strength, resilience and determination. Her poignant story
is well crafted and will appeal to anyone who has ever worked on a fire
line, as well as anyone who has ever suffered discrimination in the
" Steve C.

"Summers of Fire" by Linda Strader is not just a "good read", but an engaging narrative of a young woman's experiences as she lives out her dreams of being a firefighter. To refresh my memory while writing this review, I started to reread "a couple of pages." Now, a half-hour later (I'm not a slow reader), I remember why this book was hard to put down. The relatively short chapters always left me wanting to glance at what was coming up in the next chapter. The chapters flowed seamlessly, even while the narration jumped to different topics or scenes or reflections. Based on her journal of those years--her fire-fighter experiences, her personal highs and lows , and working relationships with the all-male crews--the story leaves this reader with a sense of great admiration and a new view of her own life's possibilities. A well-written book and a candidate for gifts to several friends." Ann-Marie S.

"I thoroughly enjoyed Linda’s book and it was difficult to put down. It was fascinating to read about her experiences on the fire crew and the prejudices she faced. It was fulfilling to know she was able to overcome her challenges and succeed in a “man’s” world. I highly recommend the book!" Barbara P.

"I must admit I got more than I bargained for with Linda Strader’s ‘Summers of Fires’. As an ex-parks ranger I was intrigued to think I’d be reading about a world I had some experience with. For me fighting fires was part of the job, not something that I had a passion for, unlike Linda who clearly does. So my initial thoughts as I began to read her story was ‘crazy lady’. But I also very quickly felt I was ‘back in the black’, tossing around a rake-hoe, tramping over burnt ground, smelling the air to check the wind direction… her depictions were so good I wanted to cough and blow my nose a lot. No, this is a compliment! Half way through and I was getting angry with the way the system treated women in what really was a ‘man’s world’. I wanted Linda to provide telephone numbers so I could ring these jerks up… OK, so yes, bit invested in this story now. I was rangering in Australia in the late 1980s and even then I experienced this sort of behaviour. Then the last third of her story started to come at me a whole different way; one of heart, of hope, of insecurities, human frailities, loves won, lost, hard fought for. By the time I’d read the last words I knew I’d been privileged to share a very personal story of a very ordinary woman who did some extraordinary (and some pretty dumb!) things. But heck, if you can look back on your life and think ‘Gee, did I really do that? Hey, yeah, I did!’ then you’d have lived a heck of a life – and she has… still is I guess. Persistence – gets you a long, long way." Mike C. 



Ruth O. said...

It is so amazing in this day that the discrimination toward female firefighters still persists. Perhaps opportunities will improve just as it has for women in the armed services. It has been delightful to have a first-hand account of a woman firefighter!

Frank Babb, Author Hot Times in Panama said...

I just finished reading an advance copy of Linda Strader’s book Summers of Fire. I read it over a long weekend because I couldn’t put it down once I started.

Those of us living in the Southwest were horrified last June by the tragedy when 19 firefighters died in the furious wild fire near Yarnell, Arizona. The news articles told the public about the dangers firefighters encounter and the conditions under which they work. Fires are treacherous, they can spread faster than a firefighter in superb condition can run, they suddenly appear behind you, and death is always present as we learned from Yarnell. I wondered what kind of people undertake this dangerous work, how do they train for it, and what’s it like to be on a true “firing line.”

Linda’s book answered these questions and more. Starting in 1976 for seven summers she worked for the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management serving on fire suppression crews from Arizona to Alaska. As one of first women on a fire crew, she had to prove to the previously exclusive male members of the fraternity that she could do everything they did as well as they could do it and in time lead them into action. In addition to the hazards of her job she put up with discrimination from some of her co-workers, even when they admitted she was as good as they. She resigned from the Service because of work related knee injuries.

Summers of Fire is well written, the stories of her experiences told through conversations with her teammates both on and off the job and her graphic ability to convey to the reader what was going on in her mind while things were happening. You can read the first chapter on her website. I’ve urged her to let you read the second chapter, too. You’ll enjoy it!