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Stephen Pyne
World Fire


Original Airdate: July 17, 1996

 

About the Author

Pyne received his bachelor's degree at Stanford University after graduating from Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona. He later attained his master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Texas at Austin. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1988. He has also received a Fulbright Fellowship, and two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships.

He spent fifteen seasons as a wildland firefighter at the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park between 1967 and 1981. Since the publication of his second book, Fire in America in 1982, he has been known as one of the world's foremost experts on the environmental history of fire.

 

About this Book

Pyne is a fire expert with a blazing poetic streak. His newest book is a vigorous synthesis of all the observations, data, and leaps of creative thought he gathered together in Fire in America (1988) and Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia (1991). Human and earth history aren't complete without a history of fire, a chronicle Pyne forges from sources both scientific and cultural. Our ancestors' survival depended on the domestication of fire. The hearth was the center of family and community life, and for eons fire was a life force as people all over the world used slash-and-burn methods to fertilize and renew the earth. But fire gradually lost its association with creation and became aligned solely with destruction and death. Pyne considers the evolution of fire in such diverse regions as Australia, Africa, Brazil, Sweden, Greece, Iberia, Russia, and India and then ponders Antarctica, the land without fire. As he examines changing techniques for and attitudes toward fire control, Pyne challenges our concepts of nature and wilderness and explains why the study and management of fire have tremendous environmental, cultural, and political implications.

 



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