Soils and Societies: Perspectives from Environmental History

McNeill, John R., and Verena Winiwarter, eds. | from Multimedia Library Collection:
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McNeill, John R., and Verena Winiwarter, eds. Soils and Societies: Perspectives from Environmental History. Cambridge: The White Horse Press, 2010.

This multi-authored collection examines the complex interrelations between societies in different parts of the world and the soils they relied on from the perspectives of geomorphology, archaeology, pedology, and history. The geographical spread includes Mesoamerica, Africa, Europe, Australia, India, and Easter Island. Few things are more important to human survival than the fertility of the soils from which so much of our food comes. Yet, few aspects of the relationship between human society and the environment get so little attention. This book explores some of the enormous variety in the ways that people have worked with, thought about, damaged, and restored soils. It also shows some of the ways in which soils, their properties, and their histories have influenced human affairs. Soils are the substrate of all human society: from the palaeolithic to the present, their history is our history.

John R. McNeill is a university professor at Georgetown University. He specializes in world and environmental history.

Verena Winiwarter is professor of environmental history at the Institute of Social Ecology, Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Vienna.

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