The Art of Fire by Daniel Hume
Who doesn’t want to learn more about fire? if there is anyone I’m not sure I know them!
Fire is one of those magical things that comes with being outdoors, it’s the past present and future all rolled into one, it helps create memories and experiences that last a lifetime and sometimes longer.
So, when Daniel Hume said we could have a copy of his book to peruse I was undeniably excited and waited with impatience.
Good! – Part of me was worried that this would be another book with rubbish illustrations and black and white pictures that don’t have good detail. Thumbing through I saw that there were some great colour photo’s and line drawings done to a high standard.
The book as a classic hardback feel to it with a slightly textured cover – there is a paperback version as well – the books feel substantial without being too big or heavy. I like the artwork, it stands out without being gaudy.
Overall, a good first impression. From just the initial thumbing through the book you can see that it has a good quantity of diverse and practical information on fire materials, techniques and management.
The book is structured in a progressive manner and each new section is personalised with Dan’s experiences from around the world in his pursuit of more knowledge about fire. Each new chapter starts off with this and it’s a nice little addition, even though they don’t contribute to the reader mastering the making of fire, they are great for creating a historic and geographical understanding of where the techniques and knowledge have come from, how much they are used now etc.
The main ways of getting fire are covered in this order:
Chapter 1: Embers & Tinder
Chapter 2: Hand Drill
Chapter 3: Bow Drill
Chapter 4: Fire Plough
Chapter 5: Fire Saw
Chapter 6: Fire Thong
Chapter 7: Fire Piston
The next 2 chapters cover alternative fires starting methods
Chapter 8: Sparks
Chapter 9: Sun, Electricity & Chemicals
The next chapter is the conversion from ember to flame
Chapter 10: From Flame to Fire
And then the management of the fire you’ve created
Chapter 11: Fire Setup & Management
The book also has a few other sections that are not in chapters, these include Fire creation stories & Legends, Wild Fires and an About the Author section.
I’ve read the book from cover to cover which has given me a good understanding of what’s covered, where it is and the depth of detail. This works for me but the book will also stand on its own as a resource for just jumping into an area that you are interested in. If you are really interested in making and using a fire saw, just get stuck into that section of the book.
It’s obvious that Daniel knows his stuff and that he loves the subject, it comes through in his writing style which is easy going, good on detail and enthused. I would have liked to see some more colour pictures, don’t get me wrong the pictures in the book are great, and maybe it would have changed the style of the book too much but there’s a realness to photographs that it’s sometimes hard to capture with drawings.
One of the most important chapters is Chapter 11: Fire Setup & Management, it’s partly what makes this a good all round book, as well as an excellent coffee table book, in this chapter, is the parodical how-to of managing fires, appropriate use of fires and clearing up after you have had your fire, this is the bit that I think everyone that ventures into the outdoors should know. The vast majority of the book is focused on making fire, which is generally the exciting bit, it is good to see some balance in there which helps people learn safety and responsibility.
Then there’s the other side of the book, the bits that aren’t just all about making fire, the human interactions, his travels and search for more knowledge and experience.
I’d be happy to buy this book for myself or as a present for someone, it’s a great addition that will encourage and educate anyone interested in one of the oldest human skills. I know it makes me want to get out and try new ways of making fire that I’ve not attempted or succeeded at before, it’s a book that encourages and makes you believe that it’s not just Dan that can make fire from the natural materials around him, you can as well.