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Environmental Histories of the First World War


Tait Keller, Alice Weinreb, Ernst Langthaler, Gerard J. Fitzgerald, Roy MacLeod, Dan Tamir, Ingo Heidbrink, Jack Patrick Hayes, Graham Auman Pitts, Zachary J. Foster, Steven Serels, Thaddeus Sunseri, Raf De Bont, Anna-Katharina Wöbse, Frank Uekötter
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  • Date Published: November 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108429160

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About the Authors
  • This anthology surveys the ecological impacts of the First World War. Editors Richard P. Tucker, Tait Keller, J. R. McNeill, and Martin Schmidt bring together a list of experienced authors who explore the global interactions of states, armies, civilians, and the environment during the war. They show how the First World War ushered in enormous environmental changes, including the devastation of rural and urban environments, the consumption of strategic natural resources such as metals and petroleum, the impact of war on urban industry, and the disruption of agricultural landscapes leading to widespread famine. Taking a global perspective, Environmental Histories of the First World War presents the ecological consequences of the vast destructive power of the new weaponry and the close collaboration between militaries and civilian governments taking place during this time, showing how this war set trends for the rest of the century.

    • Provides a new environmental perspective on industrial warfare with implications for the twenty-first century
    • Suggests a decades-long environmental legacy of World War I and provides a narrative of neglected regions of the War
    • Meant for readers interested in both military and environmental history
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Anyone who wants to learn about the global ecological catastrophe that the First World War precipitated must read this book. It is an eye-opener and a disturbing reminder that those who set the Great War in motion had no idea as to what they had let loose on the world.' Jay Winter, author of War beyond Words: Languages of Remembrances from the Great War to the Present

    'This exciting collection represents the best of the innovative new field of environmental history of war. Looking at the ways that the First World War impacted land, food, and animals it will give us new insights and fresh ways of thinking. This book will be a must read for those wishing to understand the war.' Michael S. Neiberg, author of The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America

    'The truly global coverage of this pioneering environmental perspective on the Great War breathes new life into the notion of 'total war' by venturing far beyond the battlefield and the hellish mud of the Western Front's trenches to investigate the feeding and fuelling of military support systems, and wider environmental transformations, from Austria-Hungary to Africa and Japan. This ambitious study of nature's mobilization stands out amidst the onslaught of new books accompanying the centenary.' Peter Coates, co-editor of Militarized Landscapes: From Gettysburg to Salisbury Plain

    'This collection of essays deserves a broad audience. The innovative studies not only enrich the literature on the First World War as a 'total' global conflict; they also present powerful evidence of the interpretive insights that await historians in the broader field in which environmental history and military history intersect.' Roger Chickering, author of Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914–1918

    'This engaging collection represents a welcome addition to the previously neglected environmental history of World War I. Sharply written chapters focus on the mobilizing of food, oil, and other resources for war, while offering much needed coverage of the environmental consequences of World War I in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. This book represents a vital contribution to the burgeoning literature on war and the environment.' Charles E. Closmann, author of War and the Environment: Military Destruction in the Modern Age

    'This is something truly new - a wonderful, global collection on one of the most important yet neglected topics in history: the legacy and impact of war on the environment. It brings together some of the best scholars in the field of World War I and environmental history and covers a dazzling array of topics.' Christof Mauch, Director, Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

    '… [a] thoughtful and thought-provoking collection, highly recommended especially for public and college library World History or Environmental Studies collections.' Library Bookwatch

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108429160
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • contains: 21 b/w illus. 2 maps 8 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of tables
    List of contributors
    1. Mobilizing nature for World War I: an introduction Tait Keller
    Part I. Europe and North America: Battle Zones and Support Systems:
    2. Beans are bullets, potatoes are powder: food as a weapon during World War I Alice Weinreb
    3. Dissolution before dissolution: the crisis of the wartime food regime in Austria-Hungary Ernst Langthaler
    4. The chemist's war: Edgewood Arsenal, World War I, and the birth of a militarized environment Gerard J. Fitzgerald
    Part II. War's Global Reach: Extracting Natural Resources:
    5. 'The mineral sanction': the Great War and the strategic role of natural resources Roy MacLeod
    6. Something new under the fog of war: World War I and the debut of oil on the global stage Dan Tamir
    7. World War I and the beginning of over-fishing in the North Sea Ingo Heidbrink
    8. The political and natural eco-footprint of World War I in East Asia: environments, systems building, and the Japanese Empire, 1914–23 Jack Patrick Hayes
    Part III. The Middle East and Africa: Ecosystems, Refugees and Famine:
    9. 'Make them hated in all of the Arab countries': France, famine and the creation of Lebanon Graham Auman Pitts
    10. Why are modern famines so deadly? World War I in Syria and Palestine Zachary J. Foster
    11. Starving for someone else's fight: World War I and food insecurity in the African Red Sea Region Steven Serels
    12. Forest policy, wildlife destruction, and disease ecologies: environmental consequences of World War I in Africa Thaddeus Sunseri
    Part IV. The Long Aftermath: Environmentalism and Memory:
    13. Disruption and reorganization: international preservation networks and World War I Raf De Bont and Anna-Katharina Wöbse
    14. Memories in mud: the environmental legacy of the Great War Frank Uekötter.

  • Editors

    Richard P. Tucker, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Richard P. Tucker is Adjunct Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Insatiable Appetite: The United States and the Ecological Degradation of the Tropical World (2000) and numerous publications on the environmental history of warfare.

    Tait Keller, Rhodes College, Memphis
    Tait Keller is an Associate Professor of History and former Director of the Environmental Studies and Sciences Program at Rhodes College. His publications include Apostles of the Alps (2016) and articles in journals such as Annales and Environmental History. He is a Fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

    J. R. McNeill, Georgetown University, Washington DC
    J. R. McNeill is Professor of History and University Professor at Georgetown University and author of prize-winning books such as Mosquito Empires (Cambridge, 2010) and Something New under the Sun (2000). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and served as President of the American Society for Environmental History (2011–13) and of the American Historical Association (2019).

    Martin Schmid, Alpen-Adria University, Vienna
    Martin Schmid is Associate Professor for Environmental History and Deputy Director (2016–17) at the Institute of Social Ecology of Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt in Vienna. He is founding member of the Center for Environmental History (ZUG), and served as its director in 2010–11. He was a 2011 Fellow of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich.


    Tait Keller, Alice Weinreb, Ernst Langthaler, Gerard J. Fitzgerald, Roy MacLeod, Dan Tamir, Ingo Heidbrink, Jack Patrick Hayes, Graham Auman Pitts, Zachary J. Foster, Steven Serels, Thaddeus Sunseri, Raf De Bont, Anna-Katharina Wöbse, Frank Uekötter

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