Prologue. Seeing meaning in the flames -- 1. Why fire? -- Fire's narrative -- An imperial narrative -- America's narrative -- Rhythms and reasons -- 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 -- 3. Sparks and embers : ideas in the wind -- The big fire -- Firestop II and Firestart I -- Fire in the mind -- Fire as community -- 4. Flash points : fire scenarios for the future -- The fires this time and next -- The not-quite vestal fire on the no-long virgin land -- The big burn -- Epilogue. Imaging fire -- Appendix. Fire's American century : by the numbers. " ... 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?"