on 18 October 2013
Richard Grove's monumental study concentrates on the way in which the emergence of environmental history was a contingent of the growth and development of European colonialism from the 17th century onwards. Within this vast area he centres on how the three major European colonial powers (Britain, the Netherlands and France) dealt with the ecological impact of their respective colonial experience. Furthermore the book directly challenges the notion that environmental concerns grew out of a metropolitan intellectual discourse by showing how such ideas arose as a response both by colonial administrators and the early natural scientific community to the natural world. In doing so Grove provides an important historical dimension to the contemporary debates over environmental issues. The book itself is divided up into eight chapters with the largest proportion of the book going to the Anglo-Dutch experience, for example, the controversy surrounding deforestation in St Helena in the late seventeenth-century. In the process Grove utilises a small colonial controversy in order to highlight the emergence of the awareness by humans of their own impact on the environment. What is striking about this book is the way Grove is able to home in on a particular local colonial controversy to make a wider point about the development of environmental history and thereby ensuring that this is not only an exceptional book, but also is a must read for anyone interested in environmental issues.