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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.