Book Review: On Fire

Reviewed by Karri Munn-Venn

I was feeling a little uneasy as I began Naomi Klein’s On Fire. It felt simultaneously like too much in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it would be not quite enough with all that has changed in the brief period since the book’s publication. Thankfully it was just right.

I’ve read several of Klein’s previous books. They are consistently well-researched, engagingly written, and informative. Previous volumes, however, had an ideological edginess to them that I worried would alienate the people who had the most to learn from Klein’s analysis. It may have been here too, but I didn’t hear it.

In this collection of a decade’s worth of essays and presentations, Klein expresses grief, fear, and a deep well of hopefulness as she reflects on pivotal moments in the push for climate justice: meeting Pope Francis, the election of Donald Trump, the 2017 B.C. wildfires, the rise of Greta Thunberg and the youth climate movement, and calls for a Green New Deal in the U.S. and Canada. Her writing resonates with me, in part, I think because I’ve written about some of the same events and I’ve navigated a similar grief. I’m a part of her “we,” and I too see an abundance of potential in the vast social movements around the world that are calling for transformative change not only to address the climate crisis, but the interconnected crises of racism, inequality, poverty, and greed. A worthy read.

On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal

By Naomi Klein
Penguin Books, 2019-07-04

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