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New Stephen J. Pyne book examines the modern evolution of fire in America

Date: 2015-11-23
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From a fire policy of prevention at all costs to today's restored burning, Between Two Fires is America's history channeled through the story of wildland fire management. Stephen J. Pyne tells of a fire revolution that began in the 1960s as a reaction to simple suppression and single-agency hegemony, and then matured into more enlightened programs of fire management. It describes the counterrevolution of the 1980s that stalled the movement, the revival of reform after 1994, and the fire scene that has evolved since then.

Pyne is uniquely qualified to tell America’s fire story. The author of more than a score of books, including Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire, World Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth, and Fire: Nature & Culture, he has examined the history of fire throughout in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Earth overall. In his earlier life, he spent fifteen seasons with the North Rim Longshots at Grand Canyon National Park.

In Between Two Fires, Pyne recounts how, after the Great Fires of 1910, a policy of fire suppression spread from America’s founding corps of foresters into a national policy that manifested itself as a costly all-out war on fire. After fifty years of attempted fire suppression, a revolution in thinking led to a more pluralistic strategy for fire’s restoration. The revolution succeeded in displacing suppression as a sole strategy, but it has failed to fully integrate fire and land management and has fallen short of its goals.

Today, the nation’s backcountry and increasingly its exurban fringe are threatened by larger and more damaging burns, fire agencies are scrambling for funds, firefighters continue to die, and the country seems unable to come to grips with the fundamentals behind a rising tide of megafires. Pyne has once again constructed a history of record that will shape our next century of fire management. Between Two Fires is a story of ideas, institutions, and fires; it’s America’s story told through the nation’s flames.

For more information on the book, see:

For more information on Stephen J. Pyne, see his author’s web site at

For more details on this and other books relative to emergency response and public safety communications, see our BOOKS page

- Books/ (via University of Arizona Press, 11/16/15)


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