MacArthur Fellows Program

Stephen J. Pyne

Environmental Historian | Class of 1988

Environmental Historian
Phoenix, Arizona
39 at time of award
Area of Focus
Environmental History
Published August 1, 1988

About Stephen's Work

Stephen Pyne is an environmental historian who has written on the ecology and the history of fire and on other natural phenomena.

Pyne, who spent 18 seasons as a professional firefighter with the National Park Service, has brought historical scholarship to the subject of humanity’s interaction with fire.  His many books include Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (1982), Fire on the Rim (1989), Burning Bush: A Fire History of Australia (1991), World Fire: The Culture of Fire on Earth (1995), Vestal Fire (1997), and Year of the Fires: The Story of the Great Fires of 1910 (2001).  His fire histories have been republished as a set under the title, Cycle of Fire.  Pyne also wrote Introduction to Wildland Fire (1984; rev., 1997), a textbook for professional fire managers.  He is also the author of Dutton’s Point: An Intellectual History of the Grand Canyon (1983), The Ice: A Journey to Antarctica (1986), and How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History (1998), Fire: A Brief History (2001), Tending Fire (2004), and Brittlebrush Valley (2005).


Pyne is a Regents’ Professor and a member of the Human Dimensions of Biology faculty at Arizona State University, Tempe.

Pyne received a B.A. (1971) from Stanford University, and an M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. (1976) from the University of Texas.

Recent News

Stephen Pyne added to his global fire survey with Awful Splendour: A Fire History of Canada (2007). He is currently resurveying the American fire scene with a narrative titled Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America (2015) and a series of regional studies.

Updated July 2015

Select News Coverage of Stephen J. Pyne
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