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Ecological Imperialism


  • 21 b/w illus. 6 maps
  • Page extent: 408 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.77 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 302.4
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: GF50 .C76 2004
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Human ecology
    • Europeans--Migrations
    • Human geography
    • Biogeography

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521837323 | ISBN-10: 0521837324)

People of European descent form the bulk of the population in most of the temperate zones of the world - North America, Australia and New Zealand. The military successes of European imperialism are easy to explain; in many cases they were a matter of firearms against spears. But, as Alfred Crosby maintains in this highly original and fascinating book, the Europeans' displacement and replacement of the native peoples in the temperate zones was more a matter of biology than of military conquest. European organisms had certain decisive advantages over their New World and Australian counterparts. The spread of European disease, flora, and fauna went hand in hand with the growth of populations. Consequently, these imperialists became proprietors of the world's most important agricultural lands. Now in a second edition with a new preface, Crosby revisits his now-classic work and again evaluates the global historical importance of European ecological expansion.

• Cites ecological reasons for success of European expansion, including movement of flora and fauna • New introduction revisits and evaluates the original thesis • Argues that Europeans' displacement of native peoples was more a matter of biology than military conquest


1. Prologue; 2. Pangaea revisited, the Neolithic reconsidered; 3. The Norse and the Crusaders; 4. The Fortunate Isles; 5. Winds; 6. Within reach, beyond grasp; 7. Weeds; 8. Animals; 9. Ills; 10. New Zealand; 11. Explanations; 12. Conclusion.


'In telling his very readable story, Mr Crosby combines a historian's taste for colorful detail with a scientist's hunger for unifying and testable generalization …[He] shows that there is more to history than kings and battles, and more to ecology than fruits and nuts.' The Wall Street Journal

'Crosby argues his case with vigour, authority, and panache, summoning up examples and illustrations that are often as startling in their character as in their implications. Ecological Imperialism could not ask for a more lucid and stylish exponent.' The Times Literary Supplement

'The biological bases of radically changing historical ecosystems must never be forgotten - and Crosby has made them intelligible as well as memorable.' Natural History

'The book is important, and required reading for politicians worldwide … Nuclear war may be spectacular and a valid focus for our exertions, but ecological insouciance is even more dangerous because it is unspectacular, and it merits efforts to combat it as strenuous and urgent.' The Guardian

'Crosby has unfolded with great power the wider biopolitics of our civilization.' Nature

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