Between Two Fires
A Fire History of Contemporary America
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.
An excellent case study of the difficulties in translating thoughtful policies and sound research findings into on-the-ground land management programs and practices.’—Tom Nichols, retired National Park Service Chief of Fire and Aviation Managemen
Will be the history of record for wildfire management for the next several decades.’—Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, USDA Forest Servic
Stephen J. Pyne is a Regent’s Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. His recent books include Voyager, The Last Lost World, and Fire: Nature and Culture
Three Fires, 1961
Last Hurrahs, 1967 and 1970
New Normals, 1977 and 1980.
Lost Fire, 1991
Millennial Fire, 2000
East Meets West, 2007
6. Burning Out
Epilogue: After Action Report
Note on Sources
Voices from Bears Ears
Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land
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