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North Castle Books

Germs, Seeds, and Animals: Studies in Ecological History
Authored by: Alfred W. Crosby

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-56324-249-6 Paper ISBN: 978-1-56324-250-2
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USD: $92.95 USD: $26.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 232pp. References, index.
Publication Date: November 1993.  


Description: Although humanity's chroniclers have chiefly concerned themselves with politics, wars, and religion, humanity's primary concerns have always been biological matters pertaining to health and disease, nutrition and malnutrition. In this work noted ecological historian Alfred Crosby discusses several fascinating consequences of European expansion since 1492; the dispersion of diseases, crops, and animals; and the varying success with which different groups of human beings, the beneficiaries and the victims of European expansion, managed to stay alive and reproduce.

Selected Contents:

Foreword by Kevin Reilly
Introduction: Nerds versus Twits
1. The Columbian Voyages, the Columbian Exchange,
2. Ecological Imperialism: The Overseas Migration of Western Europeans as a Biological Phenomenon
3. The Biological Metamorphosis of the Americas
4. The British Empire as a Product of Continental Drift
5. Infectious Disease and the Demography of the Atlantic Peoples
6. Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation of America
7. "God ... Would Destroy Them, and Give Their Country to Another People ..."
8. Hawaiian Depopulation as a Model for the Amerindian Experience
9. The Demographic Effect of American Crops in Europe
10. Demography, Maize, Land, and the American Character
11. Reassessing 1492
12. Life (with All Its Problems) in Space

Comment(s): "The expansion of Europe thoroughly jumbled the fauna and flora of the various continents and Crosby is an excellent guide in the maze of subsequent biological concoctions." -- Pieter C. Emmer, Leiden University

"Rarity of rarities, Alfred Crosby is a historian who thinks like a scientist and writes like H.L. Mencken." -- Joel E. Cohen, The Rockefeller University

"Crosby is master of a lucid style and history with a broad sweep across oceans and continents." -- Philip D. Curtin, The Johns Hopkins University

Review(s): "An excellent introduction to Crosby's work. It demonstrates the breadth of his scholarship, the innovative nature of his ideas, and his own inimitable writing style." -- Canadian Journal of History

"Fascinating, and packed with details ... an important and still neglected aspect of post-Columbian history." -- Habitat

"Crosby ... [is] a breath of healthy air in a historical profession still prowling after myopic, stale, anthropocentrism. ... I felt inspired and academically challenged. ... Useful readings for classes of any level in American and world history." -- Journal of World History

"These spirited and engaging essays sum up Alfred Crosby's effort to reach different audiences of historians with his ideas about the environmental history of the globe. ... Crosby's thematic approach to world history has much to recommend it as a way to accommodate many otherwise disjointed pieces of information. His vigorous writing shows how reading about the past can be made more attractive than it usually is. And his provocative interpretations give undergraduates many an opportunity for lively discussion." -- Bulletin of the History of Medicine

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