TitleScorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America
CommentsPaperback, 2007. Review by Claudia Broman, in //Northland College Magazine//, Spring, 2008 [Barker is a 1975 Northland Graduate]: "Readers with interest in wildfire, land conservation, ecosystem management, and politics will find fodder for thought in Rocky Barker's //Scorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America//. More accessible than Norman MacLean's //Young Men and Fire//, and more specific in scope that Stephen Pyne's //Fire in America//, //Scorched Earth// offers ideas that could help resolve fire management tensions. "Barker opens with an incident at Yellowstone National Park in 1988 when he, park visitors, administrators, and firefighters lived through a firestorm at the Old Faithful Inn. Barker's main goal, though, is to examine U.S. fire control policy chronologically from 1870 through the early 21st century. He shows how an influential debate of right and wrong impacted critical decisions by fire experts and land managers leading up to and during the million-acre-plus Yellowstone fire of 1988. "Whether fires are sparked by lightning or by human hand, questions linger unanswered in our society about when to supress fire and when to let it burn. In //Scorched Earth//, Barker's take-home message seems less about finding absolute answers than it does aobut the importance of embracing flexibility and accepting change. However relevant to fire, it also seems a lesson lucratively applied to the age-old pursuit of understanding humanity and our own turbulent role on Earth."