The past 50 years have witnessed remarkable changes in American fire policy, institutions, sciences, and practices. Yet the standard history, Fire in America, ends in the 1970s. It misses the momentous events that make America’s great cultural revolution on fire. But more is at stake than missing years. The revolution changed the storyline. It deserves its own narrative.
The federal agencies have generously agreed to fund a sequel study that will survey the history from 1960 to 2011. The project will result in two books. Between Two Fires: A Fire History of America, 1960-2011 will relate the basic narrative. To the Last Smoke will assemble an anthology of essays to highlight particular places, personalities, and practices. Between Two Fires will thus serve as the play-by-play record, and To the Last Smoke as the color commentary, as organized around regions.
Shift plan for 2014 ~
Between Two Fires is written and revised and ready to find its way into print. The U.S. Forest Service (FAM) has generously agreed to sponsor publication through the Government Printing Office, which will leave the text in the public domain. We hope to publish in October. A digest of the narrative along with some observations is available at After the history has been made.
To the Last Smoke needs some stray essays, along with a completed survey of the Southwest before it begins the same process. It does not seem the sponsors wish to publish through GPO, so I intend to feel out university presses. If they balk, I’ll self-publish. I hope the suites can be published in batches as soon as possible.
Because of its bulk, I’m I’m seriously considering a much shorter, popular version of Between Two Fires (tentatively titled Friendly Fire, Feral Fire) to be published in a venue yet to be determined. My primary task, however, is to move the project texts into print.
Meanwhile, I have an essay on the New Jersey Pinelands, probably the country’s most famous unknown firescape [Bog and burn], two on the Yarnell Hill fire tragedy [After the fire; A Refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a crew in Yarnell], and one on fire from the perspective of the Leopold wolf-kill site, which Aeon has published [Thinking like a burnt mountain].
The regional studies have proved informative and fun. I’d like to continue them after the project has formally concluded. It’s time Colorado, Utah, and Nevada entered the national narrative. And then there are the Lake States, the eastern oak woodlands, New England – and did anyone say Alaska?
Funding comes from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and Joint Fire Science Program.