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The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: An Ecological History Paperback – 16 May 2003

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (16 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300100558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300100556
  • Product Dimensions: 28.5 x 21.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 958,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"a wry, scholarly and beautifully written book" -- Charles Clover, Daily Telegraph

About the Author

A.T. Grove, a geographer, is emeritus fellow of Downing College, Cambridge. Oliver Rackham, a botanist in the department of forestry, is a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.

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Format: Paperback
I'm sure this book will become a classic listed as a reference in works to come.

The whole of the book is concerned about human influence in the Mediterranean landscapes, one of the more intensively used of the planet, and one of the earliest to be used. The idea the authors fight against for the whole of the book is that the Mediterranean is a "ruined landscape" due to human activity.

So they study climate in historic times, climatic change since the last glaciation, vegetation, erosion, terracing, influence of fire, etc. in an impressively thorough way with plenty of "case studies".

They arrive to the conclusion that in Classical times the Mediterranean was more arid than now, that there is no consistent influence of the global warming in the Mediterranean so far (if one studies weather registries and "clues" further back than the beginning of the 20th century) and that erosion rates are not relevantly different than in the past.

They refute there is any "desertification" in Southern Europe and also the typical assertion that maquis and savanna are degraded forests.

They counterbalance the damage caused by overgrazing with the risk of the landscape becoming a "fire dominated" landscape, and in short, they score all the points to be considered heretics by both ecologists and governmental planners all over the north Mediterranean shores.

However, given the obvious field research the authors have been undertaking for decades and their impressive knowledge of the way the Mediterranean works from geology to "off season tavern talks" their conclusions are to be taken into account.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review of The Nature of Mediterranean Europe 25 Jun. 2001
By Steven Milner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The authors of this work combine insights from their own research in Crete with their colleagues works in other regions of Mediterranean Europe to provide an exceptional overview of the natural history of the region. Throughout the book the authors emphasize the pitfalls in using historical documentation in developing an understanding evolution of a specific environment, and emphasize the need for first hand observation. The presentation of the information is, therefore, a combination of summary of observations and an interesting lecture on interpretation of data and observation.
US readers may find the authors use of British vernacular and colloquiallisms in summarizing key points to be confusing. There are also occasions where the authors choose to compare methods of teaching in the US and Europe, wherein it is clear that the authors knowledge of US curricula is dated (e.g. the practice of teaching climax vegation theory is no longer in common practice in the US.) That aside, the information and analysis provided by the authors is insightful, well organized and above all challenges conventional stereotypes of the region.
I took this book on a two week tour of Mediterranean Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey and quickly acquired a deeper understanding of; human history, the impact of anthropogenic disturbance, geomorphology, evolution of biota and climate.
I recommend this book to others studying or working in any of the natural resource fields, and especially to those who have not had a prior exposure to European ecology. Prior studies in ecology, botany, wildlife biology and the like will suffice to follow the refreshingly opinionated perspectives provided in this book. Unlike many other recent publications in ecology, this is not an anthology or synthesis of prior written works, but rather the analysis and opinions of two professionals with solid field experience. The authors leave the reader with ample grounds to agree, disagree or augment interpretation. Reading the book will make you want to join the authors on their next field trip.
The hardcover copy I purchased was well made with ample graphic illustrations (though landscape photographs would find improvement in depth of field). Good use of data tables and graphs are made throughout. I was particularly pleased by the format for footnoting chosen by the authors. I am a reader who distains the current practice of embedding references to other authors work within the text; a practice which I find makes the text less readable, while often times leaving the reader to guess where to find the supporting information. A good value for the money.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars no need for anything else 24 Jan. 2006
By Bernhard Lucke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is definitely the best and only book about the Mediterranean, erosion, and desertification. A must for everybody working in these fields. I have worked deeply into the discussed issues and find the richest source for my disseration in this book. In fact, I wouldn't need much more, and would the book be widely accepted, my work could be superfluous.

But as many colleauges did not yet want to be convinced by Grove and Rackham, let's add some evidence to support their conclusions.

Everybody else who does not have to recall previous conclusions: this is the simply best work about the Mediterranean environment; brillant, outstanding, will become a standard in the future.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like "The Making of the Cretan Landscape" but much expanded 22 Aug. 2002
By Nicholas Turland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book has much in common with Rackham & Moody's "The Making of the Cretan Landscape." Indeed, the information from the earlier book seems to form the foundation of the later one. The inclusion of examples from other parts of the Mediterranean region (especially Spain and Italy) expands the new book considerably, so it is certainly true to its title. The new book is more generously illustrated than the earlier one, with more color photographs of various types of vegetation, geological phenomena, ancient trees, etc...
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