Fire: A Brief History

Paperback | September 1, 2001

byStephen J. Pyne

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"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.

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From the Publisher

"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 s...

Stephen J. Pyne is a professor at Arizona State University. The author of ten acclaimed books on environmental history, he won the 1995 "Los Angeles Times'" Robert Kirsch Award for his career contribution to arts & letters. He lives in Glendale, Arizona.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.15 × 0.55 inPublished:September 1, 2001Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:029598144x

ISBN - 13:9780295981444

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsForeword: Small Book, Big StoryIntroduction: KindlingFIRE AND EARTH: CREATING COMBUSTIONHow Fire Came to BeHow Life Accommodated FireFirst Fire TodayTouched by FireFRONTIERS OF FIRE (PART 1): FIRE COLONIZING BY HOMINIDSWhat Made Early Fires EffectiveFirst Contact: When Fire ArrivesLost Contact: When Fire DepartsABORIGINAL FIRE: CONTROLLING THE SPARKWhy They BurnedWhere and How They BurnedDying Fire: When the Firestick LeavesAGRICULTURAL FIRE: CULTIVATING FUELThe FIre in Agriculture's HearthHow to Cultivate FireWhat They Meant to Each OtherRites of FireFRONTIERS OF FIRE (PART 2): FIRE COLONIZING BY AGRICULTUREHow Conversion Leads to ColonizationStories from the Fire FrontierComings and Goings of Agricultural Fire TodayURBAN FIRE: BUILDING HABITATS FOR FIREHearth and House: Making a Home for FireBuilt to Burn: A Fire Ecology for the City CombustibleThe Eternal Flame Invisible: Fire in the Industrial CityPYROTECHNICS: FIRE AND TECHNOLOGYPrometheus UncainedCycles of Pyrotechnology: How Fire Has Cooked the Earth Fire Powers: Controlled--and Not-So-Controlled-- Fire as Mover and Shaker Fire in the MudFRONTIERS OF FIRE (PARK 3): FIRE COLONIZING BY EUROPEHow Europe Expanded Fire's RealmHow Europe Contained Fire's RealmHow Europe Redefined Fire's RealmINDUSTRIAL FIRE: STOKING THE BIG BURNHow Industrial Combustion Has Added FireHow Industrial Combustion Has Subtracted FireHow Industrial Combustion Has Rearranged Fire RegimesTHE FUTURE OF FIRE: BURNING BEYOND THE MILLENIUMAs the World Burns: What Is and Isn't Burning, and Where Still the Keeper of the FlameSelected Sources and Further ReadingIndex

Editorial Reviews

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