The Great Plains
232 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
14 b&w illustrations, 1 map
Release Date:09 May 2017

The Great Plains

A Fire Survey

The University of Arizona Press

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
Destined to be a classic, with value to a wide array of readers.’—Choice

Stephen J. Pyne is a historian in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 20 books, mostly on wildland fire and its history, but also dealing with the history of places and exploration, including The Ice, How the Canyon Became Grand, and Voyager. His current effort is directed at a multivolume survey of the American fire scene, including Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America and To the Last Smoke, a suite of regional reconnaissances, all published by the University of Arizona Press.

Series Preface: To the Last Smoke
Preface to Volume 5

Map of the Great Plains

Prologue: These Once-Conflagrated Prairies

Geographies of Place and Mind
The Fixed and the Fluid: Hard and Soft Geographies of the Plains
Grass: A Pyric Primer
Seasons of Burning: Prairie Fire in American Culture

Plains, Great and Sm all
Pleistocene Meets Pyrocene
The Nebraska
Loess Hills
Texas Takes on Fire: A Reconnaissance

People of the Prairie, People of the Fire
Wichita Mountains
The Blackened Hills

Epilogue: The Great Plains Between Two Fires

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