Recognizing that leadership, like any other type of craft, is cultivated over time through careful study and practice, the members of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group developed a leadership development Program for wildland fire leaders.  While you might not be in a position to participate formally in the program, you can read the books that are part of the curriculum. As you'll see, every year the list of books changes. But that doesn't mean the books from previous years don't have value. There are some classics in there, so be sure and scan over the years. You might see something that really catches your eye. The committee responsible for picking the books does an enviable job of bringing in books from a diversity of sources. Very few, if any, have a direct connection to wildland fire. But leadership is a skill that transcends industry and occupation.

So without any further adieu, we present the National Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program Professional Reading Lists:

A few thoughts on the lists:

  • Jocko Willink & Leif Babin have two books on the list. They’re both retired Navy SEALs and have a pretty gung-ho approach to, well, life in general. If you want to check them out before investing in a book, check out Jocko’s Podcast.
  • Colin Powell shows up twice on this list. Might be something to that.
  • Michal Sanborn’s book is the only book to be included in a list more than once (2014 and 2018).
  • Michael Useem and Stephen Pyne are the only authors to have multiple books included in the same year
  • Stephen Pyne has the most book recommendations. When it comes to writing, he is a machine. He just churns them out. I’ve read a few of his books. Which is the best? That’s a tough call. But I will say his book Florida: A Fire Survey blew me away. All my firefighting was done west of the Mississippi. Learning about the firefighting culture in Florida was absolutely fascinating.
  • John Maclean and Norman Maclean combined have three books on the list. The father and son duo have set the bar on how to write about tragedies in fire. If you’re new to fire…you might want to pass on Young Men and Fire. It’s a bit dense. John Maclean’s Fire on the Mountain about the South Canyon Fire is more accessible to the layperson, and probably a better start.
  • Of the 50+ titles listed, only 5 books are authored by women. The 2019 list contains the highest percentage of female writers (2/4 = 50%).
  • Simon Sinek is a great writer and thinker. If you’re struggling with figuring out your purpose, or what the hell you should be when you grow up, look up some of his talks about Finding your Why and How to Change Your Future. Also, his book, “Find Your Why" is common reading in MBA programs and Fortune 500 companies.