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Burning Bush


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Table of Contents

Foreword by William Cronon
Preface to the 1998 Paperback Edition
Preface to the Original Edition: Firestick History
Map of Australia
Map of Australia's Vegetation
Prologue: Dust to Dust
The Universal Australian
Unemaginable Freaks of Fire: Profile of a Pyrophyte
Red Centre: Fire Regimes of Old Australia
Land of Contraries
Flaming Front
Fierstick Farmer: Profile of a Pyrophile
Fires of the Dreaming
Smokes by Day, Fires by Night: Fire Regimes of Aboriginal Australia
This Wonderful Depository of Fire
Entwining Fire
Reconnaissance by Fire: Education of a Pyrophile
Red Steer and Green Pick
Beyond the Black Stump
Fire Conservancy
Burning Off: Fire Provinces of European Australia
When the Billy Boiled
The Two Fires
Antipodean Fire: The Australian Strategy
Wild Bush, Urban Bush: Fire Regimes in New Australia
Epilogue: Ashes to Ashes
Bibliographic Essay

Promotional Information

Aborigines and eucalyptuses in effect worked together to make Australia one of the premier firescapes of the planet. Even today the burning bush remains a perennial challenge on the vast island continent. -- William Cronon, from the Foreword


This history by a noted environmental historian and author of The Ice ( LJ 11/15/86) acknowledges the importance of fire to Australia both biologically and culturally. It interprets major fires, the use of fire by the aborigines and European settlers, changing attitudes toward fire control and prevention, and conflict over government policies like the ``Australian strategy'' of aerial ignition. While the book is arranged chronologically into four major parts, the narrative within sections is topical and episodic. The material is thought-provoking but the treatment is a bit prolix. The work most similar to this book is Pyne's Fire in America ( LJ 9/15/82), which also aims to integrate fire history into the nation's general history.-- Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., CUNY

This is a phenomenal piece of research and writing, an epic that moves from prehistoric geology to contemporary firefighting theory and draws on an array of natural and social sciences to do so. This is geographical writing at its best and most exhaustive and will intrigue anyone interested in Australia, the environment or human civilization.

* San Francisco Chronicle *

Mr. Pyne, showing what a historian deeply schooled in environmental science can contribute to our awareness of nature and culture, has produced a provocative work that is a major contribution to the literature of environmental studies.

* New York Times Book Review *

Stephen Pyne is a great storyteller, and here he weaves as fine a tale as one could imagine about a phenomenon as seemingly ordinary as fire.

* Natural History *

Fire's effect on Australia's native flora and human environs is investigated in this exhaustive, illuminating study. Photos. (Mar.)

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