Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Summer 2012


Great Plains Quarterly 32:3 (Summer 2012).


Copyright © 2012 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska.


The scholarly literature on the history of fire has proliferated over the last generation or so, but until now we have lacked a general history of prairie fire. Julie Courtwright fills this gap. She explains that she hopes "to open a wider discussion of prairie fire and to foster recognition of its environmental and social influence on the Great Plains, thereby broadening the larger history of fire and of the American West." That statement of purpose hints at the intended contributions of the book; Courtwright does not offer many interpretations and arguments that will surprise those familiar with the scholarly literature, but she does offer a very useful survey (founded on considerable primary research) in a form engaging and readable enough to appeal to undergraduate students and the curious public.