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Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-Century Worldby J R Mcneill
Synopses & Reviews
World wars, the rise and fall of communism, the spread of democracy: the history of the twentieth century is often told through events such as these. But to an unprecedented degree humankind in this century has also refashioned the earth's air, water, soil, and biosphere. As J. R. McNeill writes in this important book, in time environmental change will prove to be the most significant dimension of twentieth-century history. In a compelling presentation that blends anecdote, data, and shrewd analysis, McNeill provides the first full account of the "gigantic, uncontrolled experiment upon the earth" undertaken by the human race in the twentieth century.
"John McNeill's Something New Under the Sun can fairly be described as learned, a rare thing for books about the environment. And, the author's strong opinions notwithstanding, it is admirably objective....Instead of apocalyptic warnings, he offers dry wit and understatement." The Economist
"An original work of history, exhaustively researched and carefully written." Dick Teresi, New York Times Book Review
"Refreshingly unpolemical and at times even witty, McNeill's book brims with carefully sifted statistics and brilliant details." Washington Post Book World
"Magisterial...in its august overview." Bill McKibben, Boston Globe
"A brilliant, lapel-grabbing account of the last century's chaotic interplay between man and his world." London Evening Standard
"Immensely valuable....There can be no more important topic than man's transformation of nature in recent times." Roy Porter, author of The Greatest Benefit to Mankind
"A treasure of invaluable information." David Landes, author of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations
"In a field that inspires great passion in its protagonists and frequent polarization of opinion. Something New Under the Sun is a breath of fresh air. It is also a monumental, important, and timely work of interdisciplinary scholarship written to be accessible to anyone interested in the relationship between our species and the planet that suppports us." The Guardian
"Superb....McNeill is persuasive because he is quiet, sceptical, detached, and self-critical, without a line of hyperbole, eco-freakery or environmental millenarianism....With hardly a note of condescension to the reader, or compromise of scientific rigor, he makes everything easy to understand....he writes a nearly perfect style: the pace is well-judged, the language clear, the images forceful but uncontrived." Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The Independent
The history of the twentieth century is most often told through its world wars, the rise and fall of communism, or its economic upheavals. In his startling new book, J. R. McNeill gives us our first general account of what may prove to be the most significant dimension of the twentieth century: its environmental history. To a degree unprecedented in human history, we have refashioned the earth's air, water, and soil, and the biosphere of which we are a part. Based on exhaustive research, McNeill's story--a compelling blend of anecdotes, data, and shrewd analysis--never preaches: it is our definitive account. This is a volume in The Global Century Series (general editor, Paul Kennedy).
About the Author
J. R. McNEILL is professor of history at Georgetown University. He is the author of The Mountains of the Mediterranean World and other works.
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History and Social Science » Sociology » General