Historian Julie Courtwright explains the role of fire – man-made and natural – in shaping the Great Plains and the lives of its residents. Taking their cue from lightning strikes, Native Americans would burn the prairie to encourage the growth of new grass. Modern ranchers and farmers follow the same practice.
Drawing upon old diary entries, newspaper accounts, and pop culture artifacts like TV’s Little House on the Prairie, Courtwright explores how fire has benefitted and sometimes terrorized humans.
Courtwright grew up in the Flint Hills of Kansas. She is an assistant professor of history at Iowa State University.