Fire: A Brief History (Cycle of Fire Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books)
by Stephen 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 pla...
"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."--from the Foreword
Here, in one concise book, is the essential story of fire. To provide readers with a way of understanding fire's variable role in human endeavors, Stephen Pyne has fashioned a chronological structure for this book. Natural fire existed before human habitation, when lightning put flame on land. Anthropogenic fire occurred when hominids seized that spark and began recasting Earth to meet their needs and expectations. Industrial combustion arrived when humans began to burn fossil biomass from the geologic past.
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 also surveys the principles behind aboriginal and agricultural fire practices, the characteristics of urban fire, and the relationship between controlled combustion and technology, particularly those tools and techniques that affect landscapes.
Fire's role in cities, suburbs, exurbs, and wildlands as shaped by the industrialized, Europeanized, urban way of thinking that prevails in most of the world is a subject the author covers brilliantly. "Questions of what kind of fires should exist," he writes, "are increasingly decided in urban centers based on urban values. The modern city's fire reach extends far beyond the range of its municipal fire department."
Fire: A Brief History will be of value to readers interested in the environment, whether from the standpoint of anthropology, geography, forestry, general science and technology, history, or the humanities. Read less