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. Now it has one.
Thanks to the generosity of the federal agencies and the University of Arizona Press a nine-book compendium is underway. The project has resulted in two books. Between Two Fires: A Fire History of America, 1960-2012 will relate the basic narrative. To the Last Smoke will assemble a suite of shorter regional surveys 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.
Between Two Fires is now in print. To the Last Smoke will begin publication, two books at a time, beginning in spring 2016 with surveys of Florida and California. The Southwest and Northern Rockies will follow in fall 2016. To date, six of the suite are written; I hope to complete the roster within 18 months.
Because of its bulk, 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 complete the existing project, which is ambitious enough.
Funding for the general project has come from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of the Interior, and Joint Fire Science Program. It has been overseen by Dr Lincoln Bramwell, chief historian of the U.S. Forest Service, and the Center for Biology and Society, at Arizona State University.