on 23 May 2008
This volume of 20 essays/case studies is an interesting and though provoking book and highly recommended for those studying, or interested in, history, geography and archaeology and geopolitics in the modern world.
The first 10 essays present studies of 10 distinct phenomena which affected some aspect of human history in the past. Whether it is industrial pollution during the late Roman period, deforestation before the Industrial Revolution or the effect of yellow fever on European armies in the New World these essays provoke the reader to think of their respective disciplines in a diverse manner.
The latter 10 essays deal primarily with the contemporary world. This gives the book the feeling of actually being two distinct volumes, one dealing with the pre-modern period and the other with contemporary issues. The historian and the archaeologist interested in the pre-modern period may not be particularly interested in these later essays, though they do raise some issues for those studying earlier periods. Likewise the modern student of geopolitics might not find the earlier 10 essays particularly relevant to their studies if they are focused squarely on the contemporary period. The books aim is to provide "a framework for understanding the relationships between ecosystems and world-systems over time", and in this respect it is successful. A useful and informative book for those studying world-systems, global history and the cause-and-effect of human actions at all periods.