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The Fires Next Time (ed by Peter Christoff, MUP)

The world watched in horror from July 2019 to February 2020 as bushfires raged across Australia. The Black Summer fires directly killed 33 people, while hundreds more died from fire- or smoke-related causes in the aftermath, and over 3000 homes were destroyed. Researchers estimate that three billion animals were killed or displaced. The Fires Next Time: Understanding Australia’s Black Summer, edited by Peter Christoff, comprehensively analyses the Black Summer bushfires, with a wide range of academics contributing their expertise. Beginning with a historical perspective of fire in Australia from prize-winning author and historian Tom Griffiths, the book then focuses on specific aspects of the bushfires, such as the economic and ecological impacts, how politicians managed them, and how we can view the fires in the context of the climate crisis. The specificity of the topics in this book is its strength. The academics dive into their areas of interest to reveal fascinating insights and reflections, and they look to the future for how Australia can better respond to, manage and work with fire—with practical steps such as wider use of First Nations cultural burning practices. Highlights include an examination of the health impacts of fire from Sotiris Vardoulakis, Iain Walker and Sophie Aitken; and an assessment of biodiversity loss from Brendan Wintle and Libby Rumpff. The Fires Next Time would suit readers who enjoy in-depth academic nonfiction or those interested in reading more about climate change and its implications in Australia.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Coco McGrath is a freelance editor and former bookseller. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Friday Unlocked reviews Reviews