From John Muir to David Brower, from the creation of Yellowstone National Park to the Endangered Species Act, environmentalism in America has always had close to its core a preservationist ideal. Generations have been inspired by its ethos—to encircle nature with our protection, to keep it apart, pristine, walled against the march of human development. But we have to face the facts. Accelerating climate change, rapid urbanization, agricultural and industrial devastation, metastasizing fire regimes, and other quickening anthropogenic forces all attest to the same truth: the earth is now spinning through the age of humans. After Preservation takes stock of the ways we have tried to both preserve and exploit nature to ask a direct but profound question: what is the role of preservationism in an era of seemingly unstoppable human development, in what some have called the Anthropocene?
Ben A. Minteer and Stephen J. Pyne bring together a stunning consortium of voices comprised of renowned scientists, historians, philosophers, environmental writers, activists, policy makers, and land managers to negotiate the incredible challenges that environmentalism faces. Some call for a new, post-preservationist model, one that is far more pragmatic, interventionist, and human-centered. Others push forcefully back, arguing for a more chastened and restrained vision of human action on the earth. Some try to establish a middle ground, while others ruminate more deeply on the meaning and value of wilderness. Some write on species lost, others on species saved, and yet others discuss the enduring practical challenges of managing our land, water, and air.
From spirited optimism to careful prudence to critical skepticism, the resulting range of approaches offers an inspiring contribution to the landscape of modern environmentalism, one driven by serious, sustained engagements with the critical problems we must solve if we—and the wild garden we may now keep—are going to survive the era we have ushered in.
Contributors include: Chelsea K. Batavia, F. Stuart (Terry) Chapin III, Norman L. Christensen, Jamie Rappaport Clark, William Wallace Covington, Erle C. Ellis, Mark Fiege, Dave Foreman, Harry W. Greene, Emma Marris, Michelle Marvier, Bill McKibben, J. R. McNeill, Curt Meine, Ben A. Minteer, Michael Paul Nelson, Bryan Norton, Stephen J. Pyne, Andrew C. Revkin, Holmes Rolston III, Amy Seidl, Jack Ward Thomas, Diane J. Vosick, John A. Vucetich, Hazel Wong, and Donald Worster.
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, he has told fire’s history 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.
California: A Fire Survey
Stephen J. Pyne University of Arizona Press, 2016 Library of Congress SD421.32.C2C685 2016 | Dewey Decimal 363.3709794
The coastal sage and shrublands of California burn. The mountain-encrusting chaparral burns. The conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and Trinity Alps burn. The rain-shadowed deserts after watering by El Niño cloudbursts and the thick forests of the rumpled Coast Range—all burn according to local rhythms of wetting and drying. Fire season, so the saying goes, lasts 13 months.
In this collection of essays on the region, Stephen J. Pyne colorfully explores the ways the region has approached fire management and what sets it apart from other parts of the country. Pyne writes that what makes California’s fire scene unique is how its dramatically distinctive biomes have been yoked to a common system, ultimately committed to suppression, and how its fires burn with a character and on a scale commensurate with the state’s size and political power. California has not only a ferocity of flame but a cultural intensity that few places can match. California’s fires are instantly and hugely broadcast. They shape national institutions, and they have repeatedly defined the discourse of fire’s history. No other place has so sculpted the American way of fire.
California is part of the multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke also cover Florida, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s fifty-year career with wildland fire—both as a firefighter and a fire scholar. These unique surveys of regional pyrogeography are Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”
For over 400 million years, fire has been an integral force on our planet. It can be as innocent as a bonfire or as destructive and lethal as a wildfire. Human history is rife with fires that have leveled cities—the Fire of Moscow in 1812 that destroyed seventy-five percent of the city, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that took down 17,000 buildings, and the fire that obliterated San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake are just a few. Fire is a force of nature that can consume everything in its wake, and yet it also has tremendous powers of cleansing and renewal. At the end of the day, we can’t live without it.
In Fire, Stephen J. Pyne offers a concise history of fire and its use by humanity, explaining how fire has been at the core of hunting, foraging, farming, herding, urbanizing, and managing nature reserves. He depicts how it gave humans power in ancient times, which resulted in humanity beginning to reshape the world for its own benefit. He describes how fire was used by aboriginal societies and the ways agricultural societies added control over fuel, but warns that our mastery of the science and art of fire has not given us complete control—fire disasters throughout history have defined cultures, and unexpected fires that begin as the result of other disasters have shocking effects. Pyne traces fire’s influence on landscapes, art, science, and even climate, exploring the power a simple spark has over our imaginations.
Lavishly illustrated with a host of rare and unexpected images, Fire is a sizzling and accessible tale of our relationship with this primal natural force.
In most cities today, fire has been reduced to a sporadic and isolated threat. But throughout history the constant risk of fire has left a deep and lasting imprint on almost every dimension of urban society. This volume, the first truly global study of urban conflagration, shows how fire has shaped cities throughout the modern world, from Europe to the imperial colonies, major trade entrepôts, and non-European capitals, right up to such present-day megacities as Lagos and Jakarta. Urban fire may hinder commerce or even spur it; it may break down or reinforce barriers of race, class, and ethnicity; it may serve as a pretext for state violence or provide an opportunity for displays of state benevolence. As this volume demonstrates, the many and varied attempts to master, marginalize, or manipulate fire can turn a natural and human hazard into a highly useful social and political tool.
Florida: A Fire Survey
Stephen J. Pyne University of Arizona Press, 2016 Library of Congress SD421.32.F6P96 2016 | Dewey Decimal 363.37909759
In Florida, fire season is plural, and it is most often a verb. Something can always burn. Fires burn longleaf, slash, and sand pine. They burn wiregrass, sawgrass, and palmetto. The lush growth, the dry winters, the widely cast sparks—Florida is built to burn.
In this important new collection of essays on the region, Stephen J. Pyne colorfully explores the ways the region has approached fire management. Florida has long resisted national models of fire suppression in favor of prescribed burning, for which it has ideal environmental conditions and a robust culture. Out of this heritage the fire community has created institutions to match. The Tallahassee region became the ignition point for the national fire revolution of the 1960s. Today, it remains the Silicon Valley of prescription burning. How and why this happened is the topic of a fire reconnaissance that begins in the panhandle and follows Floridian fire south to the Everglades.
Florida is the first book in a multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke will also cover California, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s fifty-year career with wildland fire—both as a firefighter and a fire scholar. These unique surveys of regional pyrogeography are Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”
For more than 600 years, Western civilization has relied on exploration to learn about a wider world and universe. The Great Ages of Discovery details the different eras of Western exploration in terms of its locations, its intellectual contexts, the characteristic moral conflicts that underwrote encounters, and the grand gestures that distill an age into its essence.
Historian and MacArthur Fellow Stephen J. Pyne identifies three great ages of discovery in his fascinating new book. The first age of discovery ranged from the early 15th to the early 18th century, sketched out the contours of the globe, aligned with the Renaissance, and had for its grandest expression the circumnavigation of the world ocean. The second age launched in the latter half of the 18th century, spanning into the early 20th century, carrying the Enlightenment along with it, pairing especially with settler societies, and had as its prize achievement the crossing of a continent. The third age began after World War II, and, pivoting from Antarctica, pushed into the deep oceans and interplanetary space. Its grand gesture is Voyager’s passage across the solar system. Each age had in common a galvanic rivalry: Spain and Portugal in the first age, Britain and France—followed by others—in the second, and the USSR and USA in the third.
With a deep and passionate knowledge of the history of Western exploration, Pyne takes us on a journey across hundreds of years of geographic trekking. The Great Ages of Discovery is an interpretive companion to what became Western civilization’s quest narrative, with the triumphs and tragedies that grand journey brought, the legacies of which are still very much with us.
Early descriptions of the Great Plains often focus on a vast, grassy expanse that was either burnt or burning. The scene continued to burn until the land was plowed under or grazed away and broken by innumerable roads and towns. Yet, where the original landscape has persisted, so has fire, and where people have sought to restore something of that original setting, they have had to reinstate fire. This has required the persistence or creation of a fire culture, which in turn inspired schools of science and art that make the Great Plains today a regional hearth for American fire.
Volume 5 of To the Last Smoke introduces a region that once lay at the geographic heart of American fire, and today promises to reclaim something of that heritage. After all these years, the Great Plains continue to bear witness to how fires can shape contemporary life, and vice versa. In this collection of essays, Stephen J. Pyne explores how this once most regularly and widely burned province of North America, composed of various subregions and peoples, has been shaped by the flames contained within it and what fire, both tame and feral, might mean for the future of its landscapes.
Included in this volume:
How wildland and rural fire have changed from the 19th century to the 21st century
How fire is managed in the nation’s historic tallgrass prairies, from Texas to South Dakota, from Illinois to Nebraska
How fire connects with other themes of Great Plains life and culture
How and why Texas has returned to the national narrative of landscape fire
As Stephen Pyne reveals in his biography, few other scientists can match Grove Karl Gilbert’s range of talents. A premier explorer of the American West who made major contributions to the cascade of new discoveries about the earth, Gilbert described two novel forms of mountain building, invented the concept of the graded stream, inaugurated modern theories of lunar origin, helped found the science of geomorphology, and added to the canon of conservation literature.
Gilbert knew most of geology's grand figures--including John Wesley Powell, Clarence Dutton, and Clarence King--and Pyne's chronicle of the imperturbable, quietly unconventional Gilbert is couterpointed with sketches of these prominent scientists. The man who wrote that "happiness is sitting under a tent with walls uplifted, just after a brief shower,", created answers to the larger questions of the earth in ways that have become classics of his science.
Here and There: A Fire Survey
Stephen J. Pyne University of Arizona Press, 2018 Library of Congress SD421.3.P962 2018 | Dewey Decimal 634.96180973
Fire is special. Even among the ancient elements, fire is different because it alone is a reaction. It synthesizes its surroundings; it takes its character from its context. It varies by place, by culture, and by time. It has no single expression. There is no single way to understand it.
In this collection of essays, historian and renowned fire expert Stephen J. Pyne offers his reflections on national and global wildland fire management. Pyne distills the long saga of fire on Earth and its role in underwriting an Anthropocene that might equally be called a Pyrocene.
Presented through a mixture of journalism, history, and literary imagination, Here and There moves the discussion of fire beyond the usual formations of science and policy within a national narrative to one of thoughtful interpretation, analysis, and commentary. Centered on the unique complexities of fire management in a global world, Here and There offers a punctuation point to our understanding of wildfire.
Included in this volume:
How fire policy has changed within the United States
How policy in the United States differs from that in other countries
The history of one of the most famous fire paintings of all time
Suggested next steps for the future of fire research
Its fires help to give the Interior West a peculiar character, fundamental to its natural and human histories. While a general aridity unites the region—defined here as Nevada, Utah, and western Colorado—its fires illuminate the ways that the region’s various parts show profoundly different landscapes, biotas, and human settlement experiences.
In this collection of essays, fire historian Stephen J. Pyne explains the relevance of the Interior West to the national fire scene. This region offered the first scientific inquiry into landscape fire in the United States, including a map of Utah burns published in 1878 as part of John Wesley Powell’s Arid Lands report. Then its significance faded, and for most of the 20th century, the Interior West was the hole in the national donut of fire management. Recently the region has returned to prominence due to fires along its front ranges; invasive species, both exotics like cheatgrass and unleashed natives like mountain pine beetle; and fatality fires, notably at South Canyon in 1994.
The Interior West has long been passed over in national fire narratives. Here it reclaims its rightful place.
Included in this volume:
A summary of 19th- and 20th-century fire history in the Interior West
How this important region inspired U.S. studies of landscape fire
Why the region disappeared from national fire management discussions
How the expansion of invasive species and loss of native species has affected the region’s fire ecology
The national significance of fire in the Interior West
The Northeast: A Fire Survey
Stephen J. Pyne University of Arizona Press, 2019 Library of Congress SD421.32.N65P96 2019 | Dewey Decimal 634.96180974
Repeatedly, if paradoxically, the Northeast has led national developments in fire. Its intellectuals argued for model preserves in the Adirondacks and at Yellowstone, oversaw the first mapping of the American fire scene for the 1880 census, staffed the 1896 National Academy of Sciences forest commission that laid down guidelines for the national forests, and spearheaded legislation that allowed those reserves to expand by purchase. It trained the leaders who staffed those protected areas and produced most of America’s first environmentalists.
The Northeast has its roster of great fires, beginning with dark days in the late 18th century, followed by a chronicle of conflagrations continuing as late as 1903 and 1908, with a shocking after-tremor in 1947. It hosted the nation’s first forestry schools. It organized the first interstate (and international) fire compact. And it was the Northeast that pioneered the transition to the true Big Burn—industrial combustion—as America went from burning living landscapes to burning lithic ones.
In this new book in the To the Last Smoke series, renowned fire expert Stephen J. Pyne narrates this history and explains how fire is returning to a place not usually thought of in America’s fire scene. He examines what changes in climate and land use mean for wildfire, what fire ecology means for cultural landscapes, and what experiments are underway to reintroduce fire to habitats that need it. The region’s great fires have gone; its influence on the national scene has not. The Northeast: A Fire Survey samples the historic and contemporary significance of the region and explains how it fits into a national cartography and narrative of fire.
Included in this volume:
How the region shaped America’s understanding of and policy toward fire
How fire fits into the region today
What fire in the region means for the rest of the country
What changes in climate, land use, and institutions may mean for the region
It’s a place of big skies and big fires, big burns like those of 1910 and 1988 that riveted national attention. Conflagrations like those of 1934 and 2007 that reformed national policy. Blowups like that in Mann Gulch that shaped the literature of American fire. Big fires mostly hidden in the backcountry like the Fitz Creek and Howler fires that inspired the practice of managed wildfires. Until the fire revolution of the 1960s, no region so shaped the American way of fire.
The Northern Rockies remain one of three major hearths for America’s fire culture. They hold a major fire laboratory, an equipment development center, an aerial fire depot, and a social engagement with fire—even a literature. Missoula is to fire in the big backcountry what Tallahassee is to prescribed burning and what Southern California is to urban-wildland hybrids. On its margins, Boise hosts the National Interagency Fire Center. In this structured collection of essays on the region, Stephen J. Pyne explores what makes the Northern Rockies distinctive and what sets it apart from other regions of the country. Surprisingly, perhaps, the story is equally one of big bureaucracies and of generations that encounter the region’s majestic landscapes through flame.
The Northern Rockies is part of a multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke also cover Florida, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, the Southwest, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s 50-year career with wildland fire—both as a firefighter and a fire scholar. These unique surveys of regional pyrogeography are Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”
America is not simply a federation of states but a confederation of regions. Some have always held national attention, some just for a time. Slopovers examines three regions that once dominated the national narrative and may now be returning to prominence.
The Mid-American oak woodlands were the scene of vigorous settlement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and thus the scene of changing fire practices. The debate over the origin of the prairies—by climate or fire—foreshadowed the more recent debate about fire in oak and hickory hardwoods. In both cases, today’s thinking points to the critical role of fire.
The Pacific Northwest was the great pivot between laissez-faire logging and state-sponsored conservation and the fires that would accompany each. Then fire faded as an environmental issue. But it has returned over the past decade like an avenging angel, forcing the region to again consider the defining dialectic between axe and flame.
And Alaska—Alaska is different, as everyone says. It came late to wildland fire protection, then managed an extraordinary transfiguration into the most successful American region to restore something like the historic fire regime. But Alaska is also a petrostate, and climate change may be making it the vanguard of what the Anthropocene will mean for American fire overall.
Slopovers collates surveys of these three regions into the national narrative. With a unique mixture of journalism, history, and literary imagination, renowned fire expert Stephen J. Pyne shows how culture and nature, fire from nature and fire from people, interact to shape our world with three case studies in public policy and the challenging questions they pose about the future we will share with fire.
The Southwest: A Fire Survey
Stephen J. Pyne University of Arizona Press, 2016 Library of Congress SD421.32.A6P96 2016 | Dewey Decimal 363.370979
With its scattered mountains and high rims, its dry air and summer lightning, its rising tier of biomes from desert grasses to alpine conifers, and its aggressive exurban sprawl, something in the Southwest is ready to burn each year and some high-value assets seem ever in their path. But the past 20 years have witnessed an uptake in savagery, as routine surface burns have mutated into megafires and overrun nearly a quarter of the region’s forests. What happened, and what does it mean for the rest of the country?
Through a mixture of journalism, history, and literary imagination, fire expert Stephen J. Pyne provides a lively survey of what makes this region distinctive, moving us beyond the usual conversations of science and policy. Pyne explores the Southwest’s sacred mountains, including the Jemez, Mogollon, Huachucas, and Kaibab; its sky islands, among them the Chiricahuas, Mount Graham, and Tanque Verde; and its famous rims and borders. Together, the essays provide a cross-section of how landscape fire looks in the early years of the 21st century, what is being done to manage it, and how fire connects with other themes of southwestern life and culture.
The Southwest is part of the multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region. The volumes in To the Last Smoke also cover California, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, Florida, and several other critical fire regions. The series serves as an important punctuation point to Pyne’s 50-year career with wildland fire—both as a firefighter and a fire scholar. These unique surveys of regional pyrogeography are Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”
There are two basic rules for writing nonfiction, says historian and award-winning author Stephen J. Pyne. Rule 1: You can’t make stuff up. Rule 2: You can’t leave out known stuff that affects our understanding. Follow these rules, and you are writing nonfiction. Writing for different audiences and genres will require further guidelines. But all readers expect that style and story (or more broadly, theme) will complement one another.
Style and Story is for those who wish to craft nonfiction texts that do more than simply relay facts and arguments. Pyne explains how writers can employ literary tools and strategies to have art and craft add value to their theme. With advice gleaned from nearly a dozen years of teaching writing to graduate students, Pyne offers pragmatic guidance on how to create powerful nonfiction, whether for an academic or popular audience.
Each chapter offers samples that span genres, showcasing the best kinds of nonfiction writing. Pyne analyzes these examples that will help writers understand how they can improve their nonfiction through their choice of voice, words, structure, metaphors, and narrative. Pyne builds on his previous guide, Voice and Vision, expanding the range of topics to include openings and closings, humor and satire, historical writing, setting scenes, writing about technical matters and deep details, long and short narration, reading for craft, and thoughts on writing generally. He also includes in this volume a set of exercises to practice writing techniques.
Style and Story will be treasured by anyone, whether novice or expert, who seeks guidance to improve the power of their nonfiction writing.
Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District
Clarence E. Dutton; Introduction by Wallace Stegner; Foreword by Stephen J. Pyne University of Arizona Press, 2001 Library of Congress QE691.D86 2001 | Dewey Decimal 551.780979132
Originally published in 1882, Clarence Dutton’s Tertiary History of the Grand Cañon District has become one of the definitive books on the Grand Canyon. Commissioned as a study of the region’s geology and issued by the fledgling U.S. Geological Survey, it is as much admired today for its literary as its scientific merits. With its beautiful illustrations by Thomas Moran and William Henry Holmes, it is a seminal work on the Canyon that has never been surpassed for its eloquence and authority.
This new edition of Dutton’s magnum opus makes that work available once again. Visitors to the Canyon will gain a new appreciation of its majesty as Dutton takes readers on several excursions among its castellated and cathedral-like peaks and ridges. Along the way, he explains the peculiar characteristics of different rocks, the water-sculpturing process, volcanic cones and outflows, the extent of the river’s erosion, and other geological features.
Dutton’s Tertiary History remains arguably the most evocative and compelling geological writing ever done on the Grand Canyon region. As Stephen J. Pyne observes in his foreword, Dutton “recast a rocky peninsula into geo-poetry, reshaped an amorphous panorama of Time into narrative History, and transformed an American scene into a universal symbol.” No one who has thrilled to the majesty of the Grand Canyon will fail to be moved by this timeless work.
From boreal Alaska to subtropical Florida, from the chaparral of California to the pitch pine of New Jersey, America boasts nearly a billion burnable acres. In nine previous volumes, Stephen J. Pyne has explored the fascinating variety of flame region by region. In To the Last Smoke: An Anthology, he selects a sampling of the best from each.
To the Last Smoke offers a unique and sweeping view of the nation’s fire scene by distilling observations on Florida, California, the Northern Rockies, the Great Plains, the Southwest, the Interior West, the Northeast, Alaska, the oak woodlands, and the Pacific Northwest into a single, readable volume. The anthology functions as a color-commentary companion to the play-by-play narrative offered in Pyne’s Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America. The series is Pyne’s way of “keeping with it to the end,” encompassing the directive from his rookie season to stay with every fire “to the last smoke.”
It has become commonplace these days to speak of "unpacking" texts. Voice and Vision is a book about packing that prose in the first place. This book is for those who wish to understand the ways in which literary considerations can enhance nonfiction writing. Stephen Pyne, an experienced and skilled writer himself, explores the many ways to understand what makes good nonfiction, and explains how to achieve it. His counsel and guidance will be invaluable to experts as well as novices in the art of writing serious and scholarly nonfiction.