Poetry Madness

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Original Essays | March 10, 2015

    J. C. Hallman: IMG One in the Oven; or, Why You Should Suck It Up and Meet Your Favorite Author

    At first, I was dead set against it. I would not try to meet Nicholson Baker while I was writing a book about Nicholson Baker. I had a good reason... Continue »


On Order

New Hardcover
Currently out of stock.
Add to Wishlist
available for shipping or prepaid pickup only
Qty Store Section
- Local Warehouse Physics- Meteorology

Tending Fire: Coping with America's Wildland Fires


Tending Fire: Coping with America's Wildland Fires Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The wildfires that spread across Southern California in the fall of 2003 were devastating in their scale-twenty-two deaths, thousands of homes destroyed and many more threatened, hundreds of thousands of acres burned. What had gone wrong? And why, after years of discussion of fire policy, are some of America's most spectacular conflagrations arising now, and often not in a remote wilderness but close to large settlements?

That is the opening to a brilliant discussion of the politics of fire by one of the country's most knowledgeable writers on the subject, Stephen J. Pyne. Once a fire fighter himself (for fifteen seasons, on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon) and now a professor at Arizona State University, Pyne gives us for the first time a book-length discussion of fire policy, of how we have come to this pass, and where we might go from here.

Tending Fire provides a remarkably broad, sometimes startling context for understanding fire. Pyne traces the "ancient alliance"between fire and humanity, delves into the role of European expansion and the creation of fire-prone public lands, and then explores the effects wrought by changing policies of "letting burn"and suppression. How, the author asks, can we better protect ourselves against the fires we don't want, and better promote those we do?

Pyne calls for important reforms in wildfire management and makes a convincing plea for a more imaginative conception of fire, though always grounded in a vivid sense of fire's reality. "Amid the shouting and roar, a central fact remains,"he writes. "Fire isn't listening. It doesn't feel our pain. It doesn't care-really, really doesn't care. It understands a language of wind, drought, woods, grass, brush, and terrain, and it will ignore anything stated otherwise."

Rich in insight, wide-ranging in its subject, and clear-eyed in its proposals, Tending Fire is for anyone fascinated by fire, fire policy, or human culture.

Book News Annotation:

From experience with a "hotshot" crew fighting fires at Grand Canyon National Park over many seasons, Pyne (life sciences, Arizona State U.) situates US debates over let burn/controlled burn fire management policies for public lands in historical and ecological contexts. In a timely analysis as continuing drought in the West magnifies the problem, he proposes viewing fire more deeply as a phenomenon subject to biological controls rather than as a force to be subdued by physical means.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)


"Tending Fire" offers a brilliant discussion of the politics of fire by one of the country's most knowledgeable writers on the subject. Pyne examines fire policy, and looks at how we have come to this pass, and where we might go from here.

About the Author

Stephen J. Pyne is a professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of many acclaimed books, including Year of the Fires (Viking, 2001), The Cycle of Fire series (University of Washington Press), and How the Canyon Became Grand (Penguin, 1999).

Table of Contents


Prologue: Seeing Meaning in the Flames


Chapter 1. Why Fire?

-Fire's Narrative

-An Imperial Narrative

-America's Narrative

-Rhythms and Reasons


Chapter 2. Torch and Shovel: The Means of Fire Management

-Option 1. Let Burn

-Option 2. Suppress

-Option 3. Prescribe Burn

-Option 4. Change Combustibility

-The Elements Compounded


Chapter 3. Sparks and Embers: Ideas in the Wind

-The Big Fire

-Firestop II and Firestart I

-Fire in the Mind

-Fire as Community


Chapter 4. Flash Points: Fire Scenarios for the Future

-The Fires This Time, and Next

-The Not-Quite Vestal Fire on the No-Longer Virgin Land

-The Big Burn


Epilogue: Imagining Fire

Appendix: Fire's American Century: By the Numbers


Further Reading


Product Details

Pyne, Stephen J.
Shearwater Books
Pyne, Stephen
United states
Natural Disasters
Environmental Conservation & Protection - General
Public Policy - Environmental Policy
Fire management -- United States.
Wildfires -- United States.
Edition Number:
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
November 2004
9 x 6 in

Other books you might like

  1. Native Science
    Used Trade Paper $9.00
  2. Mornings on Horseback: The Story of...
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  3. Nature Noir: A Park Ranger's Patrol... Used Hardcover $4.95
  4. Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for...
    Used Hardcover $6.95
  5. Organisms and Environments #06:... New Trade Paper $22.50
  6. Kayaking Made Easy, 2nd: A Manual... Used Trade Paper $4.95

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » Fire Fighting
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Science and Mathematics » Botany » Trees and Shrubs
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » Trees
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Meteorology

Tending Fire: Coping with America's Wildland Fires New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$36.75 Backorder
Product details 256 pages Shearwater Books - English 9781559635653 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Tending Fire" offers a brilliant discussion of the politics of fire by one of the country's most knowledgeable writers on the subject. Pyne examines fire policy, and looks at how we have come to this pass, and where we might go from here.

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.