BREATHING FIRE: Jaime Lowe in conversation with Beth Hines

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July 28, 2021 • 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


California’s fire season gets hotter, longer, and more extreme every year ― fire season is now year-round. Of the thousands of firefighters who battle California’s blazes every year, roughly 30 percent of the on-the-ground wildland crews are inmates earning a dollar an hour. Approximately 200 of those firefighters are women serving on all-female crews.

In Breathing Fire: Female Inmates on the Front Lines of Californias Wildfires, Jaime Lowe expands on her revelatory work for The New York Times Magazine. She has spent years getting to know dozens of women who have participated in the fire camp program and spoken to captains, family and friends, correctional officers, and camp commanders. The result is a rare, illuminating look at how the fire camps actually operate ― a story that encompasses California’s underlying catastrophes of climate change, economic disparity, and historical injustice, but also draws on deeply personal histories, relationships, desires, frustrations, and the emotional and physical intensity of firefighting.

Lowe’s reporting is a groundbreaking investigation of the prison system, and an intimate portrayal of the women of California’s Correctional Camps who put their lives on the line, while imprisoned, to save a state in peril.

Joining the author in conversation will be Beth Hines, the executive director of Community Partners in Action. CPA was founded in 1875 as the Prisoners’ Friends’ Society with Mark Twain as one of their founding benefactors. Community Partners in Action focuses on behavioral change and advocates for criminal justice reform. CPA’s employment, basic needs, reentry and recovery services work together to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and inform policy – all at a fraction of the cost of prison. In partnership with the State of Connecticut, US government, private funders, organizations and businesses, Community Partners in Action works to make a positive impact in the lives of adults and youth throughout Connecticut.

This virtual program is free to attend, with donations gratefully accepted and split equally between The Mark Twain House & Museum and Community Partners in Action. REGISTER HERE.

Signed copies of Breathing Fire will be available for purchase through the Mark Twain Store; proceeds benefit The Mark Twain House & Museum.We regret that we are NOT able to ship books outside the United States as it is cost-prohibitive to do so.

Jaime Lowe was born and raised in California. She is the author of Mental, a memoir about lithium and bipolar disorder, and Digging for Dirt: The Life and Death of ODB, a biography of Ol’ Dirty Bastard, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. She is a frequent contributor to the New York Times magazine and other national and international publications. Lowe has contributed to This American Life and Radiolab, and has been featured on NPR and WNYC numerous times.

Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, and the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign and its Travelers Arts Impact Grant program, with major support from The Travelers Foundation. 


July 28, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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