Book Reviews



“A fascinating look at the men and women who devote their lives to this service.”




“You think your job’s hard? Jason Ramos and his colleagues parachute into the wilderness in order to save nature from going up in flames.
He takes readers into the world of smokejumping, which has become more important as drought in America becomes more widespread.”
-, a 7 Best Books of the Month selection




“[A] touching and fast-paced memoir... written with precision and perspective, sometimes with a touch of poetry. ... A fun and valuable read for anyone seeking to learn more about those who are willing to risk their lives to battle such deadly infernos.”
-Washington Post


“Jason Ramos’s Smokejumper is a rousing personal adventure story, a nutshell history of the great wildland fires, and insider’s brief for making smokejumpers more relevant on today’s fire line.”
- John N. Maclean, author of 
Fire on the Mountain



“Jason Ramos weaves personal experiences, smokejumper history, fire science, and fire operations into a fascinating book. It is a must read for all firefighters as well as any American who lives or recreates in or near wildfire prone areas.”
- Larry Lufkin, son of Francis Lufkin, Smokejumper NCSB '40, '46, '48-'50, MSO '42-44

“Compelling. ... A fast-paced, eye-opening read.”
- Minneapolis Star Tribune




“Fast-paced. ... Ramos is an expert guide through a fearful world. ... His passion is unmistakable.”
- USA Today


“Ramos chronicles the history of the elite group of airborne firefighters who attack blazes in some of the West’s most remote and rugged country. ... Ramos’ narrative will surely spark hearty debate.”
- High Country News


“In a humble and interesting way, Jason takes us through his story of a young man aspiring to become a smokejumper. The reader joins him on his time as a volunteer urban firefighter, to wildland firefighting and training, to becoming a rookie smokejumper. During his adventures on fires throughout the west, interwoven in his exciting adventures Jason educates the reader about the other firefighting resources, the art of firefighting, the smokejumper culture and life style and human tragedies associated with his 26-year firefighting career.”
Bill Moody, NCSB Jumper & Base Manager (retired) 1957-89, currently seasonal Air Tactical Group Supervisor and Aerial Fire Suppression Consultant


“Nothing can ever be like smokejumping in one’s life experience. Nothing can ever measure up to the long summers, the early mornings, the wafting of airplane exhaust and the sound of engines roaring as you step out into the cold air, into harm’s way– to the smell of smoke and the endless beauty and incredible drama of the western mountains of America. Jason brings all that alive in this book.

Smokejumpers today are carrying on a long tradition of service to our government, to the environment and to saving lives. It is vitally important that this tradition continue. Initial attack has become old news these days, where too often fires are left to burn. Too often these become conflagrations which destroy lives, property and the environment, costing tens of millions to finally contain. This book will give you an inside look at the world of smokejumping, and an intimate understanding of how exceptional – and vital – the smokejumping program is to the future of the West.”
Bill Furman, CEO, Greenbrier Companies, Inc, Smokejumper NCSB ’62-67

“Jason Ramos, veteran U.S. Forest Service smokejumper, tells of nature at its most savage, of 2,000-degree heat and hurricane-force drafts, of heroic, sometimes lethal efforts to save the lives of people less prepared.
From a career committed to places and events few people see, Ramos delivers a frank, first-hand account of front-line – and behind-the-lines – challenges. Here you’ll meet the people who fly between Heaven and Hell. And jump.”
– Wayne van Zwoll, PhD