Five Suns

A Fire History of Mexico

Stephen J. Pyne (Author)
Hardcover ($45.00), Ebook ($45.00) Buy
A climate defined by wet and dry seasons, a mostly mountainous terrain, a biota prone to disturbances, a human geography characterized by a diversity of peoples all of whom rely on burning in one form or another: Mexico has ideal circumstances for fire, and those fires provide a unique perspective on its complex history.

Narrating Mexico’s evolution of fire through five eras, historian Stephen J. Pyne describes the pre-human, pre-Hispanic, colonial, industrializing (1880–1980), and contemporary (1980–2015) fire biography of this diverse and dynamic country. Creatively deploying the Aztec New Fire Ceremony and the “five suns” that it birthed, Pyne addresses the question, “Why does fire appear in Mexico the way it does?” Five Suns tells the saga through a pyric prism.
Mexico has become one of the top ten “firepowers” in the world today through its fire suppression capabilities, fire research, and industrial combustion, but also by those continuing customary practices that have become increasingly significant to a world that suffers too much combustion and too little fire.

Five Suns completes a North American fire-history trilogy written by Pyne over the past 40 years, complementing his histories of Canada and the United States.
“This is a remarkable book. In a rain of imagery and at times charged, poetic prose, and with staggering fire erudition, Pyne expertly uncovers many lost details of Mexican fire history, fire management, and forest management history. With a cavalcade of fire metaphors and similes, he integrates the normally neglected component of fire into Mexican history. However, it is not only a history of Mexican fire, but a significant new contribution to Mexican forest history. A particularly important contribution is revealing the little-recognized achievements of previously obscure Mexican bureaucrats, who led Mexico in becoming a global thought leader in integrated fire management and one of the top ten firepowers in the world.”—David Bray, author of Mexico’s Community Forest Enterprises

Five Suns is a lively biography of fire in Mexico, from its ceremonial uses in the pre-Hispanic era to its ecological role in the present. It is the only comprehensive fire history of Mexico, written by a scholar uniquely capable of telling it. It will interest anyone who wishes to learn how fire has transformed—and been transformed by—Mexico’s society and environment.”—Christopher R. Boyer, author of Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico

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