Description

Fire

A Brief History

Stephen J. Pyne
Foreword by William Cronon

  • $24.95s paperback (9780295981444) Add to Cart
  • hardcover not available
  • Published: 2001
  • Subject Listing: Environmental History
    Natural History
  • Bibliographic information: 224 pp., illus, maps, bibliog., index, 6” x 9”
  • Territorial rights: World rights except in Continental Europe and the Commonwealth (excluding Canada)
  • Series: Cycle of Fire
    Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
  • Contents

"The fate of humanity, like the fate of the earth, is tied to the fires that have made the world as we know it—the fires whose history is told as well in this book as it has ever been told before. If one wants to understand just how completely the story of the human past is also the story of fire on earth, there is no better place to start than this small book."—William Cronon

Here, in one concise book, is the essential story of fire. Noted environmental historian Stephen J. Pyne describes the evolution of fire through prehistoric and historic times down to the present, examining contemporary attitudes from a long-range, informed perspective. Fire: A Brief History surveys the principles behind aboriginal and agricultural fire practices, the characteristics of urban fire, and the relationship between controlled combustion and technology. Pyne describes how fire’s role in cities, suburbs, exurbs, and wildlands has been shaped by an industrialized, urban way of thinking.

Fire: A Brief History will be of value to readers interested in the environment from the standpoint of anthropology, geography, forestry, science and technology, history, or the humanities.

Stephen J. Pyne is a professor in the Biology and Society Program at Arizona State University. He is the author of many books, including Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910 and Fire on the Rim: A Firefighter’s Season at the Grand Canyon. Fire: A Brief History is the sixth volume in Pyne’s Cycle of Fire, which also includes Vestal Fire, World Fire, Burning Bush, The Ice, and Fire in America.
Contents
Acknowledgments
Foreword: Small Book, Big Story
Introduction: Kindling
FIRE AND EARTH: CREATING COMBUSTION
How Fire Came to Be
How Life Accommodated Fire
First Fire Today
Touched by Fire
FRONTIERS OF FIRE (PART 1): FIRE COLONIZING BY HOMINIDS
What Made Early Fires Effective
First Contact: When Fire Arrives
Lost Contact: When Fire Departs
ABORIGINAL FIRE: CONTROLLING THE SPARK
Why They Burned
Where and How They Burned
Dying Fire: When the Firestick Leaves
AGRICULTURAL FIRE: CULTIVATING FUEL
The FIre in Agriculture's Hearth
How to Cultivate Fire
What They Meant to Each Other
Rites of Fire
FRONTIERS OF FIRE (PART 2): FIRE COLONIZING BY AGRICULTURE
How Conversion Leads to Colonization
Stories from the Fire Frontier
Comings and Goings of Agricultural Fire Today
URBAN FIRE: BUILDING HABITATS FOR FIRE
Hearth and House: Making a Home for Fire
Built to Burn: A Fire Ecology for the City Combustible
The Eternal Flame Invisible: Fire in the Industrial City
PYROTECHNICS: FIRE AND TECHNOLOGY
Prometheus Uncained
Cycles of Pyrotechnology: How Fire Has Cooked the Earth
Fire Powers: Controlled - and Not-So-Controlled - Fire as Mover and Shaker
Fire in the Mud
FRONTIERS OF FIRE (PARK 3): FIRE COLONIZING BY EUROPE
How Europe Expanded Fire's Realm
How Europe Contained Fire's Realm
How Europe Redefined Fire's Realm
INDUSTRIAL FIRE: STOKING THE BIG BURN
How Industrial Combustion Has Added Fire
How Industrial Combustion Has Subtracted Fire
How Industrial Combustion Has Rearranged Fire Regimes
THE FUTURE OF FIRE: BURNING BEYOND THE MILLENIUM
As the World Burns: What Is and Isn't Burning, and Where
Still the Keeper of the Flame
Selected Sources and Further Reading
Index
Reviews

"Fire: A Brief History packs into one slender volume a sweeping tale of fire, and man's interactions with fire, from prehistory to the dawn of the twenty-first century. Pyne's perceptive words and tightly organized sentences allow him to suggest many thought-provoking ideas and to bring to his audiencea fascinating story of fire's role in shaping our world." - H-Net Book Review

"An excellent overview of why the history of humanity cannot be told without the history of fire. . . . An excellent book and strongly recommended for all audiences, especially those with interests in anthropology, geography, history, natural sciences, or the humanities." - Choice

"Stephen J. Pyne writes about fire as if he were on fire, with searing, consuming heat and light. When he looks at fire he sees not biological catastrophe but social illumination and natural renewal." — Seattle Times

"No one is better qualified to teach us about fire’s history, fire’s crucial role in shaping landscapes, than Stephen Pyne. His discussions of forestry, land-management elitism, pastoral incendiarism, nature reserves, the conservation movement and the ecology of disturbance are profoundly valuable." — New York Times Book Review

"Pyne is the world’s leading authority on the history of fire, and his erudition is phenomenal. He offers us a broad panorama of ecological and human history in a framework of geology and geography. He shows what a great impact fire has had in shaping landscapes, flora, and fauna all over the world, and how in the late Pleistocene humans have, as it were, joined forces with fire by learning to manipulate it." — Science

"Pyne weaves together with rare interdisciplinary skill science, ecology, and the arts and humanities to write the history of human involvement with fire in all its manifestations and meanings." — American Forests

"Vestal Fire taught me more about European and world history than any other single book I have ever read, abounding, as it does, in new information, new ideas, and new understandings of the past, thanks to Stephen J. Pyne’s energetic and imaginative inquiry into the unique partnership between humans and fire." — American Historical Review