Stephen Pyne had his baptism of fire early. A few days after graduating from high school as an 18-year-old he joined a forest fire crew at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. He returned to work with the crew for the next 15 fire seasons.
Pyne says this experience has influenced his writing for the rest of his life.
The Coeur d’Alene Public Library will host Pyne, author of “The Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910,” Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room. He is in North Idaho for presentations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the fires.
Pyne did his undergraduate work at Stanford University and graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been at Arizona State University since 1985 – 10 years at ASU West, three in the History Department at the Tempe, and he has since been in the School of Life Sciences.
His writing includes a biography of G.K. Gilbert, a geologist and explorer in the region; books about wildland fire, its history and management; then about the Grand Canyon and comparable Earth features. The stories of exploration now include not only the Canyon but Antarctica and the planets. The survey of fire now includes all the continents, at least in parts, with separate histories for the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe including Russia.
His interest in writing has even led to a book about nonfiction writing.
His current projects continue to elaborate on these topics: a book on the Voyager mission to the outer planets; a fire history of America since 1960; a multi-authored replacement for “Introduction to Wildland Fire;” and a fire history of Mexico. He has also been co-writing with his daughter, Lydia V. Pyne, a book-length interpretive essay on the Pleistocene epoch, that they are calling “The Last Lost World.”
Pyne’s Coeur d’Alene program is free to the public and is funded in part by the Friends of the Library who will also provide refreshments.Anyone who needs accommodation to participate in a library program is asked to contact the staff prior to the activity by calling 208/769-2315. More news and information about the library is available online at cdalibrary.org.