Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 1910, wildfires in the West scorched millions of acres, darkened skies in New England, and deposited soot on the ice of Greenland. The flames ravaged pristine wilderness along with farms, towns, and mining camps, culminating in the deaths of seventy-eight firefighters in the Big Blowup along the Montana-Idaho border. Stephen Pyne, acclaimed by the Journal of American History as America's foremost historian of fire, not only explains how the fires occurred, how they were fought, and who fought them, but also puts the event in the context of America's changing attitudes about forests and fires. In 1910 steam-powered trains were spewing sparks across the West; homesteaders were burning their way into the woods to create farms and settlements; and the Forest Service, only five years old, was struggling to solidify its role. The blazes illuminated a national debate raging about fire policy and had a lasting influence on everything from the tools firefighters carry to strategies of land management. Year of the Fires is the riveting story of that catastrophic year and its pivotal role in establishing how we deal with forest fire in this country.